Monday, October 02, 2006


Last month I discussed the 'movement' seeking to demonstrate that the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon were possibly not what the official story says they were.

I did not then and do not now advocate any conspiracy theory.

I merely drew attention to an article by the physicist Steven Jones that posits thirteen reasons to be skeptical about the official report re. the collapse of the World Trade Centre towers and the adjacent WTC7 building. I said at the time that I had yet to read any considered response to all thirteen points although I did cite an article on eSkeptic by Alex Mole that, while making some good criticism of Jones's hypothesis, did not address all of his points.

A somewhat better job has been done by yet another academic publication - The Journal of Debunking 9/11 Conspiracy Theories. This includes exhaustive scientific evidence contradicting the 'conspiracy theorists' contradiction of the official theory which is itself a conspiracy theory. One of the papers, Mike King's Good Science and 9/11 Demolition Theories does cover most of Jones's ground. And it's here where getting at the 'truth' gets very tricky.

One basis for Jones's hypothesis is the yellow-red colour of molten metal at the base of the three WTC buildings. The National Institute of Science and Technology report states that this metal was aluminium. Reason being that the temperatures required to melt steel were not created by the jet collisions with the twin towers. Those required to melt aluminium were. However as Jones states aluminium does not glow yellow in daylight as the molten metal at ground zero clearly did. It glows a greyish silver. The observed liquid metal he believes is steel. And since the jet collisions did not produce the temperatures required to melt steel something else must have. His conclusion: demolition explosives.

King's attempt to debunk this doesn't entirely do away with Jones's doubts. His argument rests mainly on ruling out thermite (Jones's hypothetical explosive). The molten metal does not support the thermite theory "because thermite in its conventional form is useless in demolition: it is slow-burning, with unpredictable time to melt, and can only be used in direct contact with horizontal unclad steel beams/components." King counters Jones's ruling out aluminium as the molten metal calling it: "poor science, because we don’t know what the temperatures were in the impact zone, while we do know that many metric tonnes of aluminium constituting the plane were in the area just above the outflow of molten metal."

His arguments against thermite may or may not be sound. I'm not a chemist. The difficulty of ascertaining the veracity of 9/11 claims and counter-claims is that you need to be a scientific specialist to understand the debate. But King fails to explain, in contradiction both of Jones and of the NIST report, why estimates of the temperatures inside the WTC cannot be confirmed. Further he says that because we don't know what the temperatures were in the impact zone ruling out aluminium is bad science !!!

No-one has suggested that the temperatures were not hot enough to melt aluminium (they were). Jones's argument is that they were not hot enough to melt steel and that melted steel is suggested by the colour of the liquid metal at ground zero. King does not address this. And whilst he implies that the molten metal is aluminium from the planes he doesn't explain the quantity of the metal nor how the presence of molten metal at the base of the WTC7 building which was not hit by a jet.

Jones also objects to NIST's tweaking of computer models until the desired results (ie the buildings' collapse) were acheieved. King maintains that that although NIST tweaked the models the perimeters were consistent with physical reality. Jones's report suggest that model was tweaked to make the World Trade Centre heavier and less stable than it actually was. The question here of course is: was the 'physical reality' in the models the same as the physical reality on September 11th.

Lastly - the eye-witness statement from William Rodriguez who worked at the WTC and gave the following testimony:

“My basis was, like I told the Commission, there was an explosion that came from under our feet, we were pushed upwards lightly by the effect, I was on basement level 1 and it sounded that it came from B2 and B3 level. Rapidly after that we heard the impact far away at the top.”

King astutely observes that if there was a basement demolition explosion the building would've collapsed from the bottom instead of from the point of impact. Alright but what about the basement explosion? King cites the NIST explantion: the basement explosions were caused by the "fuel-air mix [that] was propelled down the shafts in the core of the building." Neither he nor NIST seem to want to explain how Rodriguez heard the jet hitting the building afterward.

I can't judge the truth of any of this I haven't the expertese or the evidence. In fact no-one has the evidence anymore. The steel from the WTC cannot be checked for traces of explosive because it's been sold for scrap. All we have are competing viewpoints some scientifically based, most not.

Google "9/11 Comspiracy" and you will get 1 310 000 hits. Some, like Jones, have enough credibility to deserve an answer. Less credible are the ex-MI5 spies who believe the jets observed colliding with the twin towers were missiles disguised by hologram! This seems like an attempt to discredit the 9/11 conspiracy movement from within. Surely anyone intelligent enough to be employed by MI5 would know how preposterous such an idea sounds. And surely they would at least bite their tongues until they had something like evidence.

Who knows? Still there's enough talk to fuel doubt for a long time to come. Consider Morgan Reynolds: emeritus professor at A&M University and by the sounds of it a pretty right-wing sort of fellow. He catalogues a whole list of conspiracy friendly circumstances: the fact that Stratesec the security company contracted to guard the twin towers and Dulles airport was directed by President Bush's brother and cousin; the gag order on all NYC firefighters preventing them mentioning the explosions they heard on Sep. 11; the fact that FEMA (run by one of Bush's friends) was already strongly present in NYC for an exercise the previous day; the swiftness with which NYC authorities carted the rubble (evidence) away from the scene etc etc etc. But Reynolds is also one of the chief advocates of the hologram theory.

Tired yet?

No-one has the time or energy to wade through literally millions of pages of evidence, opinion, theory and criticism that surround this issue. Very few people not employed in the higher echelons of special military or espionage services could begin to satisfactorally explain how such a conspiracy could be carried out. No-one outside the hypothetical conspirators themselves could put together any kind of case that would find its way into a court. In short the truth, supposing the conspiracy theorists are fundamentally correct, is lost.

But the truth has already been lost because so few believe in its relevance. Newspapers, television, magazines and radio are crammed with viewpoint/opinion orientated content with little or no critical reflection. This is not just a problem for the right either. Michael Moore is hardly a conservative but he is very much a partisan populist. Fight fire with fire perhaps. It's most amusing to read Murdoch media columnists like Andrew Bolt wax hostile at Moore for skewing the truth. But when you step back and look at the large picture it's fucking scary!!!

The sheer volume of facts as portrayed in the media seems to shrink like words in the Newspeak dictionary. All that's left is rhetoric based on what people choose to believe. You don't like Bush and think the government is screwing you: 9/11 is a conspiracy. You like him and think that people who criticize the war on terror border on treason: the conspiracy theorists are a bunch of crazies. Even people who believe in 'reason' fall into this trap bending over backwards to prove there's no conspiracy because such things are associated with unreasonable crackpots. In each case people decide on the basis of their feelings and beliefs, then look at the evidence.

In a scenario like this the truth can be right in front of you but you won't recognize it. It's like being surrounded by a thousand women dressed as Carmelite nuns when only one really is. Which one is it? How can you tell?

That's how to obscure truth in a democracy. Allow everyone to speak their mind without equipping them with the ability to think. Whatever truth there might be is swamped in a river of bullshit. In theory every political system works. The problems are caused by those aspects which are unrealistic in the face of human nature. In liberal democracy's case it's the principle of enlightened self-interest. We have plenty of self-interest, not much enlightenment.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is tricky! I have been trying to read both sides, official and theories. The buildings coming down at free fall speed though do make me question how all that core steel could disintegrate in ten seconds without some source of outside heat or explosives. And then there are the "put options" on the airline stocks the day before 9/11, and then the WTC building 7 being brought down by explosives (admitted to by the owner)that had to have been in place days before 9/11, and there is also the fact that our northeastern corridor was not protected by our Air Force that day. Many, many questions and few sufficient answers. I'll keep reading though, but I do feel a more thorough inquiry than the 9/11 Commission is in order at this time. LPS