Nutty 9-11 Physics

Steven Dutch, Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay
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No amount of evidence will dissuade a conspiracy theorist, but when they appeal to scientific evidence, they're fair game. And the 9-11 conspiracy sites have some very strange science.

9-11 conspirators seem to be a mix of liberals still smarting over 2000 and ultra-conservatives angry that George Bush Jr. hasn't opened the national parks to a land rush. But if Dubya orchestrated a massive conspiracy to bring down the World Trade Center as a pretext for launching a Mideast War, why didn't he pull off the far simpler trick of faking the discovery of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? Think of it - his biggest political liability could have been avoided with a piddling investment in special effects, Bush would be seen as America's savior, his strategy would be completely vindicated, and he'd be politically unassailable. All it would take would be spritzing an empty factory with the ingredients for nerve gas, with just enough cross-contamination to create a whiff of the real thing. Yet for some strange reason he didn't do it.

Cause and Effect

We live in a universe of patterns. Once a pattern is established, the burden of proof is on people who claim the pattern does not hold. When some philosopher of science points out that we cannot prove that the sun will rise tomorrow, I say he's absolutely right. There is no way to prove axiomatically that the sun will rise tomorrow, and nobody in science cares in the slightest. When the sun doesn't rise as scheduled, call me. Until then I absolutely refuse to waste time worrying about it. When Immanuel Velikovsky claimed the planets underwent wild disturbances in their orbits, the burden of proof was on him to show that it happened. The burden was not on scientists to show it didn't.

In the case of 9-11, we have planes hitting the World Trade Center and the buildings failing at precisely the level of impact. The observational evidence clearly shows a cause and effect relationship.

It Looks Like A Controlled Demolition

What else is a large building collapse going to look like?

Until 9-11, our only experience in bringing down very large buildings was controlled demolition. The highest buildings (apart from broadcast towers) brought down were in the 30 story range. Once the building starts to fall, the physics is going to be the same regardless of the initial cause. So alleged similarities between 9-11 and controlled demolitions prove nothing. You might as well argue that the collapse of Mount St. Helens in 1980 was set off by explosives because it looked just like a landslide caused by explosives.

One thing radically different about 9-11 is that controlled demolitions always set off charges low in the structure and let the weight of the building do the rest. Nobody ever set off charges high in a building to pancake the stories beneath. So why resort to a radical and unproven method if you want to bring down the World Trade Center?

Probably the most revealing commentary on the controlled demolition theory is Bringing Down The House by Michael Satchell in US News and World Report (June 30, 2003). This article describes the work of Controlled Demolition Inc., far and away the world leaders in controlled demolition, and Mark and Doug Loizeaux, who run it.

Like most Americans, the Loizeauxs were transfixed by the televised scenes of destruction shortly after the first jet struck. But as experts in buildings' vulnerabilities, they knew right away what few Americans realized. "I told Doug immediately that the tower was coming down, and when the second tower was hit, that it would follow," remembers Mark.

Horrified, the Loizeaux brothers watched first responders streaming into the doomed towers and tried frantically, and unsuccessfully, to phone in warnings. In the following days, CDI was called to ground zero to consult on safety and develop plans for demolition and debris removal. What if the twin towers, though badly damaged, had somehow remained standing? Without doubt, the Loizeaux family would have been called upon to bring them down. "Quite simply," says Mark in a rare moment of introspective uncertainty, "I don't know how we would have done it."

So according to the world experts on building demolition:

Of course, you can always claim the Loizeaux brothers were in on the plot. Some sites link to a story about Controlled Demolition later being charged with illegal campaign contributions, which certainly proves something. Or other.

Actually, the collapse doesn't look like a controlled demolition. Real controlled demolitions try very hard to avoid flinging debris far beyond the building itself. They blow the lower stories and the center of the building to cause the building to collapse in on itself. The collapse of the World Trade Center doesn't look remotely like a controlled collapse, apart from stuff falling down.

Implosion World, a site dedicated to controlled building collapse, agrees (http://www.implosionworld.com/wtc.htm)

DID THE WORLD TRADE CENTER TOWERS ACTUALLY “IMPLODE”? No. They collapsed in an uncontrolled [emphasis added] fashion, causing extensive damage to surrounding structures, roadways and utilities. Although when viewed from a distance the towers appeared to have telescoped almost straight down, a closer look at video replays reveal sizeable portions of each building breaking free during the collapse, with the largest sections--some as tall as 30 or 40 stories--actually “laying out” in several directions. The outward failure of these sections is believed to have caused much of the significant damage to adjacent structures, and smaller debris caused structural and cosmetic damage to hundreds of additional buildings around the perimeter of the site.

HOW DOES THIS EVENT COMPARE WITH A NORMAL BUILDING IMPLOSION? The only correlation is that in a very broad sense, explosive devices (airplanes loaded with fuel) were used to intentionally bring down buildings. However it can be argued that even this vague similarity relates more to military explosive demolition than to building implosions, which specifically involve the placement of charges at key points within a structure to precipitate the failure of steel or concrete supports within their own footprint. The other primary difference between these two types of operations is that implosions are universally conducted with the utmost concern for adjacent properties and human safety---elements that were horrifically absent from this event. Therefore we can conclude that what happened in New York was not a “building implosion.”

Check out the videos of the demolition of the Stardust Hotel in Las Vegas. Fireworks. Big pyrotechnic countdown clock. None of that on 9/11. Not even remotely similar. Silly? Yes, but still above the intellectual level of most 9/11 conspiracy theories. I mean, the similarities the conspiracy buffs point to are on the same level of superficiality as whether or not there were fireworks.

Jet Fuel Doesn't Get Hot Enough to Melt Steel

For the umpteenth time, nobody ever claimed the steel melted. It got hot enough to lose its strength.

So Where Did All The Molten Steel Come From?

There are lots of accounts alleging that rescue workers encountered molten steel. The first question that comes to mind is whether these witnesses know the difference between incandescent and molten. Steel can get hot enough to glow long before it gets hot enough to melt. The fact that glowing steel was pulled out of the rubble doesn't mean it was molten.

One particular red herring that crops up frequently is that temperatures in the rubble were high enough long after the collapse to melt aluminum. Since aluminum melts at 660o C (1220o F) I don't have the slightest doubt of it. Since a backyard trash fire can melt aluminum, so what?

Apparently, the melting of steel signifies the use of explosives or thermite cutting charges. But the purpose of either is to cut steel, not melt it. A controlled demolition simply does not produce large amounts of molten steel. You might as well argue that all the concrete dust shows the buildings were taken down by an army of gnomes armed with grinding wheels.

If the World Trade Center was hot enough to melt steel, where's all the molten concrete? Iron melts around 1500o C but so do many of the silicate minerals in concrete, and a mixture of silicate minerals would melt at a temperature lower than any of the individual minerals (I'm a geologist - I get paid to know about stuff like that). The fine particle size of the concrete dust would facilitate melting. So why wasn't there a huge puddle of molten concrete at Ground Zero? (There was some, but about what you'd expect from a large fire; certainly not what you'd expect from something hot enough to melt large amounts of steel.)

In a paper by Steven E. Jones, who bills himself as a "Physicist and Archaeometrist," there are pictures of glowing material falling from the World Trade Center, together with this comment:

Who can deny that liquid, molten metal existed at the WTC disaster?  The yellow color implies a molten-metal temperature of approximately 1000o C

1000o C,  is about 500o C below the melting point of iron.

Oh, by the way, there would have been cutting of steel during the construction. And there's another construction process that melts steel. Welding.

No Steel Frame Building Has Ever Collapsed Due To Fire

So if something happens for the first time, it can't happen because it never happened before?

No 110-story buildings were ever hit by fuel-laden airliners hard enough to strip the insulation off the structural steel before, either. Steel-frame buildings are incredibly strong. They have survived major earthquakes and fires, and the Twin Towers merely rocked when hit by airliners at full throttle. But the towers were not designed to survive an impact by fully-laden airliners at full throttle, then a fire in contact with unprotected steel. An impact from a jet approaching JFK at 200 miles an hour, with nearly empty tanks, and one slamming into the building at 450 miles an hour with full tanks, are two quite different things.

Free Fall

According to Roedy Green's How You Know 9-11 Was an Inside Job:

All three World Trade Towers fell faster over the first half of the collapse than physics allows by free fall. That meant they had to have an assist, e.g. an explosive push from pre-planted demolition charges, not just gravity pulling them down. The maximum collapse for free fall is computed by

distance = g t

where g is the acceleration due to gravity 32 feet per second per second, and t is time in seconds. In other words, free fall collapse should start out slowly and accelerate faster and faster for the big finale.

This is just plain weird. Whether a building falls by deliberate demolition or catastrophic failure, the collapse will be governed by gravity. Even if you used a teleporter to magically make several stories vanish, the part above would only fall as fast as gravity would accelerate it. Only if there was some kind of thruster pushing the building down could it fall faster. Why install a useless Rube Goldberg device? Once the building begins to collapse, who needs anything to accelerate it? Gravity has a pretty reliable record of pulling things down. And where's the evidence for faster than free fall collapse?

The videos show that the towers took 15 seconds to collapse. The free-fall time for something to fall 400 meters is about 9 seconds. So, no, the towers did not fall faster than free fall.

911Research claims:

This rate is still much too fast to be explained by a gravity-driven collapse given that the descending rubble would have to crush and accelerate almost 1000 feet of vertical intact structure. It is especially revealing that each tower disappeared at about the same rate as the rubble fell through the air, as if the tower's structure provided no more resistance to the descent of rubble than did air.
All photos of the collapse show a plume of debris extending far below the main level of collapse. So the debris did  fall appreciably faster than the building itself. The building provided little more resistance than air for the simple reason that a skyscraper is mostly air.

In the photo at left the collapse is about where the cloud fills the entire width of the picture, but the debris in free fall has almost reached the ground.

Note that the debris is at least a building width beyond the building itself. No competent controlled demolition flings debris that far.

The fall doesn't have to crush the stories beneath. It merely has to stress the structural elements until the fasteners pop and the welds break. The impact of that pancaking material will cause the outer vertical members to bow outward, then fly outward violently when failure occurs. There's no need to appeal to explosives to fling material outward from the buildings.

If a story is 4 meters high, it will take an object about 0.9 seconds to fall one story, by which time it will be going 9 m/sec. So once the collapse starts, the overlying structure will be falling at 9 m/sec by the time it has fallen one story. If we crush the collapsing story into rubble half a meter thick and expect the collapse to stop at that point, what kinds of forces are involved? We go from 9 m/sec to zero in half a meter, or 1/18 of a second. However, during that deceleration the velocity is decreasing, and the average velocity turns out to be half of the initial velocity, so the crunch time is 1/9 second. So the acceleration is -9 m/sec divided by 1/9 sec = -81 m/sec2, or about 8 g's.

This is the difference between a static load and a dynamic load. In the north tower, with about ten stories above the impact, the dynamic load was about equivalent not to ten stories but to eighty, nearly the total height of the building. I doubt if the tower at that level was engineered to support eighty stories - why waste the steel? Actually the loads are much greater because the initial collapse involved a fall of about three or four stories, not just one, and the dynamic loads on the points that actually resist the fall - the welds and the rivets, will be far greater. If you try to stop the collapse in the millimeter or so a rivet or weld can deform before failing, you're talking hundreds of g's. In the south tower, where the top 25 or so stories fell, the impact load at eight g's would be equivalent to 200 stories, or twice the total height of the building. Some conspiracy buffs argue that engineering standards require a safety factor several times the actual load on the structure, but the dynamic loads would far overwhelm those standards.

This, by the way, is the reason controlled demolition works at all. If physics worked the way 9-11 conspiracy buffs think, once you blew the lower stories of a building, the upper part would just drop and remain intact. Of course it doesn't because once the building begins to fall, the dynamic loads are far beyond the static strength of the building.

911Research devotes a lot of effort to debunking what it regards as disinformation campaigns designed to deflect attention from the theory of controlled demolition. But we keep coming back to the fundamental issue how any building can fall faster than gravity or why a conspirator would feel the need to set up a mechanism to do something so useless.

"But the Government Said So"

9-11 troofers keep blind-siding me because they keep on coming up with things I can't believe any toilet-trained human being would be dumb enough to say. Lately I've been hit a couple of times with the assertion that the 9-11 Commission Report states, on Page 305, that "At 9:58:59, the South Tower collapsed in ten seconds" Indeed it does. The 9-11 Commission Report deals with events leading up to 9-11, agency responses to the crisis, and possible changes in procedure and policy to cope with future crises. It contains no technical information whatsoever about the causes of the building collapse. Nevertheless, because the report says the South Tower collapsed in ten seconds, 9-11 troofers insist that is the official Government position.

People who take that stance aren't merely scientifically illiterate; they're verbally illiterate as well. Insisting that ten seconds is meant to be a scientifically definitive finding in a paragraph dealing with firefighting efforts shows a complete lack of critical reasoning. A person who reasons like that is completely lacking in the critical reasoning necessary to sort out the events of 9-11.

The technical information on the building collapse is in the NIST reports, not the 9-11 Commission Report. There is little discussion of the chronology of the collapse once the buildings began to fall, but the NIST FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) site has the pertinent information.

The seismic spikes for the collapse of the WTC Towers are the result of debris from the collapsing towers impacting the ground. The spikes began approximately 10 seconds after the times for the start of each building’s collapse and continued for approximately 15 seconds.

So according to the seismic record, the first impacts are about ten seconds after the onset of collapse. That's the free-falling debris. Seismic signals continued for 15 more seconds. So it took at least about 25 seconds for the buildings to collapse. The seismic records are probably the best information because the last stages of collapse were obscured by dust, but a time indexed series of video frames on the 9-11 Research site shows the collapse of one tower still in progress after 19 seconds. So the collapse speed was less than half of free-fall speed. Also:

From video evidence, significant portions of the cores of both buildings (roughly 60 stories of WTC 1 and 40 stories of WTC 2) are known to have stood 15 to 25 seconds after collapse initiation before they, too, began to collapse. Neither the duration of the seismic records nor video evidence (due to obstruction of view caused by debris clouds) are reliable indicators of the total time it took for each building to collapse completely.

And the people who like to take "ten seconds" and "essentially in free fall" literally don't seem to care much about paragraphs like this:

In other words, the momentum (which equals mass times velocity) of the 12 to 28 stories (WTC 1 and WTC 2, respectively) falling on the supporting structure below (which was designed to support only the static weight of the floors above and not any dynamic effects due to the downward momentum) so greatly exceeded the strength capacity of the structure below that it (the structure below) was unable to stop or even to slow the falling mass. The downward momentum felt by each successive lower floor was even larger due to the increasing mass.

9-11 troofers are a lot like some Biblical fundamentalists. Anything that they want to believe is to be taken with absolute literalness, and anything that contradicts what they want to believe, they just ignore.

The Building Collapsed Straight Down

Gravity tends to do that. You can't extrapolate what happens in the collapse of a small building, which may tilt intact, to what happens in the collapse of a 110-story building. The videos show clearly that the top floors of the South Tower did tilt during the first few seconds of collapse.

A lot of conspiracy sites talk about "sequential collapse" as if there were explosive charges placed on every floor detonated in sequence, like the destruction of the Empire State Building in Independence Day. But controlled demolitions don't do that - they use a small amount of explosives and let the weight of the building do the rest. Thirty-story buildings have been brought down with only a few hundred pounds of explosives.

The Concrete Is All Pulverized

What exactly did you expect? Actually photos of the site show lots of concrete, admittedly broken into small chunks. Falling 1000 feet, or having stuff fall from 1000 feet onto something else, will pulverize it.

Firefighters reported that no office furnishings were recognizable either. Did somebody rig a bomb to every single desk, chair, computer and telephone in the buildings?

Too Much Dust

From 911Research:

If the collapses were merely gravity-driven, then any clouds of debris produced in the immediate aftermath should have occupied about the same amount of space as the intact towers before they had time to significantly mix into the surrounding air. The bulk of the clouds could only come from the expulsion of gases in the buildings as they collapsed, and the mixing of ambient air into the clouds.

This just makes me shake my head in wonder. First, the expulsion of air from the towers would have been pretty impressive, second, air rushing in to fill the space formerly occupied by the towers would have been equally impressive. Falling debris would also have displaced a large amount of air. Together they would have created a huge amount of turbulence, just what was seen at Ground Zero.

Actually the dust cloud at street level bore a remarkable visual resemblance to a pyroclastic flow, a hot, dense mixture of volcanic ash and gases. The dust cloud was cool, but the cloud itself was a density flow, a mixture of dust and air much denser than normal air. Density flows, whether in air or water, maintain their identity for quite a while. They stop moving when they run out of momentum, the denser parts of the flow settle out, and the lighter parts mix with the surrounding medium. Now here's a theory for conspiracy buffs to toy with - maybe someone triggered a volcanic eruption under the Twin Towers.

I should know better than to ridicule conspiracy theories on line. I simply don't have enough imagination to top what conspiracy theorists actually come up with. If you search 9-11 and "pyroclastic," you will find sites that assert the dust cloud was an actual pyroclastic flow. I could assist these folks in learning the difference. All they need to do is find an active volcano and stand in the path of a real pyroclastic flow. I guarantee it would cure them of posting nutty stuff on the intartubes.

The drywall used around the central core of the towers was an inch and a half thick. Now that will create a lot of dust.

Somehow the collapse of a quarter-mile tall building was supposed to produce no turbulence so that the dust cloud would remain over the footprint of the building and mix gradually with still air. Shades of the Road Runner, who goes "beep-beep" and leaves a road-runner shaped dust cloud behind. This is physics several levels beyond weird.

A lot of people confuse optical density with amount of dust. The fact that the dust cloud was opaque means only that light didn't penetrate it. The clouds that hung above the site weren't much denser than air so the total volume of dust in them was not large. Typical clouds in the sky contain a few grams of material per cubic meter. If we assume the 9-11 cloud had 10 grams per cubic meter - far more than even thick water droplet clouds, and the dust cloud occupied a cubic kilometer, far more than its actual volume, we have a billion cubic meters times ten grams per cubic meters, or ten billion grams, ten million kilograms, or 10,000 tons of dust, paltry compared to the million ton mass of the towers.

The Crime Scene Was Not Preserved

So what exactly were 52 FBI Evidence Recovery Teams, totaling more than 400 agents, doing on Staten Island for nine months?

This just in, the FAA doesn't leave the debris from plane crashes in place either; they take it to a hangar and lay it out for study.

Paired up with this question is why the cleanup trucks were so carefully monitored with GPS units. These days, trucks routinely have GPS units, so that's not particularly unusual, especially since a truck driver could probably sell a load of 9-11 steel for a tidy sum on the souvenir market. One driver who took a 1-1/2 hour lunch was fired, but that can get you fired lots of places.

So not leaving the debris in place is evidence of a plot, and tracking it en route to make sure it gets where it's supposed to go is also evidence of a plot.

The people clearing the site and examining the debris were responsible for removing a continuing hazard, recovering human remains, and finding any evidence that might shed additional light on what the obvious visual record shows - that the buildings collapsed after being hit by aircraft. They were not responsible for doing an archeological dig to satisfy the objections of every conspiracy theorist on the planet. Don't like that? Too bad. Deal with it.

When I did a radio interview with a truther a while ago, the discussion came around to temperatures in the fire. According to government reports, samples from the floors where there were fires showed only a few indications of very high temperatures. A much more significant question is this: if evidence wasn't properly collected, how did investigators know which floors the debris came from?

Ironically, the fact that personal effects of hijackers and passengers were found is not evidence that evidence was carefully sifted, for some odd reason.

Seismic Evidence

Again, from Roedy Green:

Seismic evidence shows the two main world trade towers were taken down by demolition.

The link goes to a site of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory showing seismic records of the plane impacts and tower collapses. The impacts registered below magnitude 1, the collapses a bit over magnitude 2. The records look like perfectly ordinary seismograms. There's no elaboration on how exactly the seismic evidence shows demolition. Apparently some conspiracy thinkers believe a seismic imprint must mean an explosion, but the collapse of a large building will do very nicely. Oil companies routinely do seismic soundings by dropping masses of several tons, called "thumpers," to generate seismic waves. A million-ton building will make a very good thumper.

Other sites look in detail at the seismograms, arguing that a slow buildup of the signal shows a progressive use of explosives. But a building collapse spread out over 15 seconds will produce a signal of growing amplitude.

Why Did WTC 7 Collapse?

Good question. The investigators were baffled. But the conspiracy theory doesn't explain anything. Why bring down an empty building hours after the main attack?

Photos published to support the claim of a controlled demolition show puffs emerging from the top of the building. These could be explosives. Or they could be concrete suddenly failing, or windows shattering. But again we have the irritating question, why start a collapse from the top, completely at odds with the way all controlled demolitions are done, especially if you want the building to fall onto its own footprint?

If it was actually a controlled demolition by the Fire Department or the building owner, or both, as some people allege, so what? The remains of the World Trade Center itself were brought down in controlled demolitions after 9-11. What does that have to do with the collapse of the Twin Towers? It seems unlikely that a demolition crew would enter a burning building and install charges to bring down something 15 stories taller than any other recorded controlled demolition, all in the space of a few hours, but if the building was brought down by the owners or the Fire Department, what's the connection to the Twin Towers? How does a planned demolition of one building prove the Twin Towers were deliberately brought down?

I've gotten a fair amount of flak over this issue but I've yet to see anyone present a coherent explanation of what, exactly, the collapse of WTC-7 proves.

Complexity

"Osama Bin Ladin, sitting in a cave in Afghanistan, could never have pulled off something of this complexity."

What complexity? You put 19 guys on four airliners on the same day armed with box cutters, after first giving a few of them enough flight training to allow them to perform some rudimentary maneuvers. Any travel agent who couldn't book 19 people on four separate flights on the same day needs a new job. The complex part would have been gaining and keeping control of the passengers and crew once the hijacks were in progress.

If Bin Ladin had known what would happen, he would certainly have had the hijackers hit the buildings lower. That would have trapped far more people while increasing the load on the heated steel, resulting in faster collapse. So if it wasn't Bin Ladin, why didn't the alleged conspirators do it? More outrage, more backing for the War on Terror. Why did they miss such an obvious opportunity?

Suppose It Was A Conspiracy

What was the intent? If it was to bring down the Towers, why demolish from the top down? That's not how any other controlled demolitions are done. Why not strike low, maximizing the number of casualties and more fully galvanizing the country for war?

If the intent was to collapse only part of the Towers, keeping casualties limited but providing a pretext for war, then the total collapse was unanticipated. Or maybe the intent was simply to crash planes into the Towers and produce casualties but not cause building collapse at all. In either case, if the building collapses were unexpected, they happened through structural weakening and gravitational collapse and all the alleged "evidence" for sequential explosive charges and so on becomes worthless.

Why use planes at all? Why not simply stage a bigger and better remake of the 1993 attack? Why not claim the terrorists detonated a large truck load of explosives at the central core of the building, or smuggled explosives into the core? Instead of passenger planes, why not have the terrorists steal a FedEx or UPS cargo plane and fill it with explosives?

Why have a time gap between the plane crashes and building collapse, and why did the South Tower, which was hit later, fall first? That makes perfect sense in the conventional scenario, because the South Tower was hit lower and thus the load on the damaged structural members was greater. It makes no sense at all from the standpoint of a conspiracy.

Like all conspiracy theories, the 9-11 conspiracy idea suffers from the fatal flaw of having the conspirators engage in a complicated Rube Goldberg process to do something a rational person could do more effectively in a much simpler way.

The Ultimate Best Words on Conspiracies

Jonah Goldberg, Skepticism Versus Paranoia, The Corner, National Review On Line, Wednesday, September 13, 2006

I distrust the government but as a realistic conservative I think government is staffed with mostly well-intentioned but incompetent people — not because they're dumb, but because bureaucracies are dumb. These conspiracy theorists reverse this entirely. They think government is evil-intentioned but supremely, even divinely, competent. That's crazy-talk, Count Chocula.

Neal Boortz is a conservative-libertarian talk show host who gets under a lot of folks' skins, but he has one saving grace. He's death on conspiracy theories (and creationism). A listener e-mailed him asking him to explain about "chemtrails," which the government is supposedly using for mind control. His reply works just as well for 9-11 conspiracy thinkers.

OK, Jim. I'll explain. You're a nutcase. Those "chemicals" you think the military is spraying on citizens are nothing more than ice crystals formed by the condensation created by high-flying aircraft. Somewhere along the line some lonely demented hysteric decided that the military was crop dusting people with all sorts of chemicals designed to make us sick, change our behavior or neuter us. I have no idea in the world what went wrong in your education, upbringing or mental health history that caused you to actually believe this insane nonsense ... I can only hope that you don't vote.

Then there's Mark Steyn's wonderful observation:

There's a kind of decadence about all this: If 9/11 was really an inside job, you wouldn't be driving around with a bumper sticker bragging that you were on to it. Fantasy is a by-product of security: it's the difference between hanging upside down in your dominatrix's bondage parlor after work on Friday and enduring the real thing for years on end in Saddam's prisons.

I think it's rather interesting that, although you find moonbat leftists and rightists alike arguing for an inside job, all the comments above come from rock solid conservatives.

Dueling Conspiracy Theories

Since a lot of people have begun to catch on to conspiracy theories, 9-11 theorists have begun putting their own spin on the term. Just like creationists have begun using the word "pseudoscience" to brand evolution and blur the distinction between their own ideas and those of science, 9-11 conspiracy theorists have begun using the term "conspiracy theory" to label the conventional view of 9-11. So you get 19 guys, give some of them rudimentary flight training, they board airliners, hijack them, and fly them into buildings. Yup, that's a conspiracy all right. So the term "conspiracy theory" is entirely accurate.

On the other hand, government operatives spent days planting explosive charges in the towers, then crashed the airliners or flew them to a secret location, brainwashed, imprisoned, or killed the passengers and crew, and that's not a conspiracy theory? Or the videos of the airliner crashes are all fake and some exotic particle beam or energy weapon disintegrated the towers into dust and that's not a conspiracy theory, either?

Well, they're both conspiracy theories, so they're both on the same plane, so you get to pick whichever one you like. This is the classic relativism of the pseudoscientist.

Fortunately, there's a way to sort through the conflicting claims. Which of the two is more consistent with well known facts? Do Middle Eastern terrorists hijack airplanes? Check. Do Middle Eastern terrorists target civilians? Check. Do Middle Eastern terrorists deliberately cause mass casualties? Check. There's absolutely nothing in the standard picture of 9-11 that conflicts with these facts. Number of previous cases where U.S. government operatives have hijacked airliners? None known. Number of previous cases where the U.S. government has collapsed a building full of innocent people? None known (apart from artillery or bombing in war). Number of previous cases where the U.S. government has collapsed a building full of its own citizens? None known. So one conspiracy theory has a host of historical precedents, and the other has none at all.

Fascinating, isn't it, that the fact that no steel frame skyscraper had ever collapsed due to fire is touted as ironclad proof that planes couldn't have brought down the World Trade Center, but the total absence of historical precedent for the government doing it counts for nothing?

Who Stands to Profit?

A question much asked by 9-11 truthers, who point to gold allegedly being removed from the World Trade Center, investigative files being destroyed, a pretext for invading Iraq or declaring martial law, etc.

A few months ago I agreed to be on a truther talk show (I'll try almost anything once. Almost.) and the commercial breaks were a revelation. There were endless spiels for crank medical remedies and nutritional supplements, investment schemes that ranged from shady to crazy, newsletters for conspiracy cults, and wacko theories on how to avoid taxes. One former truther who became disillusioned said he would no longer help the movement sell T-shirts and DVD's. It's a lot more than just T-shirts and DVD's. Look at the Web sites, the newsletters, listen to the talk shows and look at who's bankrolling them and advertising on them. Truther sites are to conspiracy thinkers what televangelists are to lonely Christians: a place to send money to buy a feeling of participation and fulfillment.

Feedback

physics is quite clear on this....if random fires and structural damage was all it took to bring down buildings (onto their footprint, at free fall speed) why would there be demolition companies? Just start random fires and damage the top, the building will disintegrate...not likely...

The towers didn't collapse onto their own footprint, not by a long shot. They didn't topple like trees, but debris flew and did damage a long way away. The whole reason we have controlled demolitions beginning at the base of buildings is to prevent debris from flying as far as it did on 9-11.

I know this sucks, I was a Republican....I understand how much it seems crazy, but please, I beg of you, as an American...look at the facts... forget about politics for a min...just look at the physics. Look at the videos, there are many (of the towers falling and building 7)....

Forget about politics? Politics is hardly mentioned at all in the discussion above, which does "just look at the physics." The only people who are constantly dragging politics into the discussion are the 9-11 conspiracy believers.

========================

I have read what you said on the internet about the collapse of the towers. First I find it unprofessional the constant use of pejorative to make your case....

Really? 9-11 conspiracy buffs can slander government officials, accuse them of mass murder and conspiracy, and ridicule their critics, and I'm being pejorative? If people are going to talk like that they should at least have the guts to take criticism. The conspiracy buffs supposedly have the courage to expose a massive high level conspiracy, but they whine like pre-schoolers when anyone attacks their ideas. Some courage. They can play these games because they know perfectly well that nobody is really going to do anything to them no matter how much they blather about conspiracies. It's all play acting. How else can you call bull$*** what it is without being pejorative?

The amazing thing is this guy can slander people he's never met and who have done him no harm, and somehow he thinks that is acceptable professional behavior. You can't have a meaningful conversation about professionalism with this guy any more than you can play chess with a duck.


Really Nutty 9-11 Physics
Vaporizing the World Trade Center
Nanoparticles at the World Trade Center

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Created 27 February, 2006;  Last Update 15 April, 2011

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