Someone bent my ear again on 911 conspiracy theories, and I've had jigsaw-puzzle-solving fun digging through the details. Also, I feel we should consider evidence for even pretty crazy-sounding claims when the evidence offered meets high enough standards. To his credit physicist Steven Jones has published papers meeting such standards:
@ Ben Phillips
re “The controlled demolition theory is not a rational theory to default to when the primary theory has holes.”
You base this conclusion on the following:1.The unprecedented nature of the demolition.2.The possibilty of something 'going wrong' 3.The difficulty in wiring the building and therefore the number of people needed to be involved in such a 'conspiracy'
What's interesting about this is that though have you set the 'controlled demoliton' theory up to a high evel of scrutiny (which is good, if one wishes to be rational) you have failed to apply this level of logic to the 'planes alone caused the building to collapse theory' (or, in your words, 'primary theory').
If we go through your points with reference to this 'planes only/primary theory':
1. Prior to 9/11 how many sky-scrapers had collapsed as a result of plane collision (WTC1&2) or localised fires (WTC7)? All these events were unprecedented yet you accept them.
2. You say: “some of the explosives could have failed to go off the timing could have been off and the towers could have collapsed at a different rate than that predicted by our knowledge of physics, bad timing could have caused a part of the tower to fall sideways instead of vertically, etc”
Do you not find it odd that an uncontrolled event such as the impact of a plane into one side of a building, or the outbreak of fire in only a certain area, should have produced collapses that were vertical and (in the case of WTC) symmetrical?
What you fail to acknowledge is that the towers did collapse “at a different rate than predicted by our knowledge of phyics” should one accept the “planes only hypothesis”. Without wishing to go too much into the details, you may want to consider:
- WTC7 collapsing at free-fall speed (a fact now acknowledged by NIST), symmetrically and into it's own footprint, implying that all its supporting columns were removed virtually simulteaously – incompatable with localised fires.(http://www.youtube.com/watch v=V0GHVEKrhng&feature=related)
- The uniform downward acceleration of the upper portion of WTC1 generating insufficient force to destroy the building beneath it, suggesting something else was needed to create the necessary energy. (http://www.youtube.com/watc...
3. All we can do is speculate as to the number of people needed to rig the three buildings with explosives.
Not being a demolition expert I am not qualified to comment. All I can say is that Danny Jowenkwo (a Dutch demolition expert) is on the record as saying it would take 30-40 men to have wired WTC7 - but that was if they had been forced 9/11 after the collapse of the other towers (note. Jowenkwo was not implying anything machiavellian, simply if WTC7 had to be imploded for safety reasons). http://www.youtube.com/watc...
In conclusion, I agree that the 'controlled demolition' hypothesis is currently weak. However, the only suggested alternative – the 'planes only hypothesis' - has been completely discredited: it fails to explain explain either the collapse sequences of the buildings, or the presence of nanothermites in the dust.
Infact the only things this 'official conspiracy theory' has going for it, are that it was the first theory to be offered, it is government-endorsed, and it has been parrotted unreflectively for the last eight years.
Personally, if forced to choose between a weak theory and an insane one, I'll take 'controlled demolition' every time.
"You are welcome to publish links to longer stories elsewhere, but that is too long for a tangential comment."
Thanks. For those interested, my long story with some allegorical moral can be found here.
Perhaps Robin you could post some guidelines on how long comments should be and the form you would like them to take?
I unpublished an 870 word comment by WonderboyInMonsterland, which was a long story with some allegorical moral. You are welcome to publish links to longer stories elsewhere, but that is too long for a tangential comment.
It is not like Steven Jones is biased or anything.
Wonderboy, let us agree that these three rates are low: 1) fraction of prime office space in rich nations destroyed in violent attacks, 2)average percentage of such space used by organizations stockpiling advanced pyrotechnics onsite, 3) fraction of violent attacks on such places caused in secret by "friendlies", using secret method of destruction differing from the apparent one. If you have any data comparing these rates, and their intersections, I'm all ears.
"Wonderboy, I didn't claim the thermite came only from WTC7."
And I never claimed you did. I simply pointed out that by saying:
"1. Huge buildings known to include CIA offices happened to hold big chunks of hitech pyrotech when the planes hit."
You were implying that that more than one building contained CIA offices (plural on buildings) and that CIA offices were a reasonable explanation for the presence of “big chunks of hitech pyro” (otherwise this is superfluous information).
"I don't assume I know where all the CIA offices were"
Good, because you clearly don't.
"The point is that there could be a lot of strange organizations with offices there."
I suppose there could be many things such as the New York lair of Dr. Evil perhaps? the headquarters of 'Nano-Explosives R Us Ltd"maybe ? But this is meaningless speculation unless you tell us more about these 'strange organisations' and what evidence you have that they were renting office space in the WTC on 9/11.
"We have to judge the relative likelihood of two a priori unlikely hypotheses."
No, you are choosing between two hypotheses which explain the findings of the paper: one of these hypotheses is coherent (though admittedly disturbing), the other is very weak.
Hypothesis 1: Nano-thermites were found in the dust because persons unknown placed them in all three buildings of the WTC to aid in (or cause) the destruction of the buildings on 9/11.
Who could have has access to such nano-thermite technology? and how could they have placed it in the buildings?
Hypothesis 2: Nano-thermite was found in the dust because the CIA (in WTC7) and 'strange organisations' (in WTC 1&2) just so happened to be stockpiling it. Though these nano-thermite may have aided in the building's destruction they were neither intentionally placed to do so nor necessary to explain it.
Who are these organisations? Is it reasonable to suggest they could have had access to this technology? Is it reasonable to say that they would have been storing it (possibly independently of one another) for innocent (i.e. non 9/11 related purposes) in WTC offices? Is it reasonable to conclude the WTC buildings would have collapsed even if this nano-thermite had not been present? Is it reasonable to assume that the CIA and "strange organisations" would be allowed (i.e. contrary environment health laws) to store significant quantities of advanced explosives in buildings containing civilian workers? If not, if it reasonable to assume that the CIA and "strange organisations" would have broken this law? If so, is it reasonable to say the media should be showing an interest in this story as it evidences gross violation of public health codes? etc.
Since you appear to favour the later, I can only conclude that you do so not because you are unintelligent, but because you are inflicted by the most fundamental bias in reasoning "I don't want this to be true therefore I will interpret the data in anyway I can so as to imply that it is not - even if that interpretation is unreasonable".
This bias is so strong that it can cause a seemingly rational mind like yours to speculate on the existence of “strange organizations “ in order to not have to consider other “conspiracy theories” Give then name and nature of your blog, this is unfortunate.
The problem you now face is that since a) you obviously pride yourself on your ability to hold to 'reasonable interpretations' of reality, and b) you have set yourself for this ability to be scrutinized by other rational thinkers (why else would you have such a site?) this bias has been pointed out to you by myself and others (Jason notably – though you seem to have misinterpreted what he was saying).
As I see it, you must at some level realise that your explanation of the Jones' paper is unreasonable and are therefore left to choose (possibly subconsciously) between two paths:
1.Cognitive dissonance : attempting to hold two contradictory view at the same time. In your case these two conflicting beliefs would be “I am a reasonable person who holds to a high standard of logical ad scientific vigour when explaining all phenomena with which I am presented” and “When I was presented with the Jones paper the reasoning I employed to explain it was not only incoherent, it was demonstrably absurd”. I believe employing this strategy will be sufficient in the short-term, but cause you many problems in the longer-term.
2.Admitting to yourself that you are failing to be rational, have the courage to go where your reason takes you, draw the appropriate conclusions from the evidence presented to you, and take the necessary actions.
Personally, I'd always choose an upsetting yet coherent "conspiracy theory”, over a reassuring yet preposterous “coincidence theory”, but I guess we all have to 'overcome bias' in our own ways, and at our own pace.
Good luck with your journey.----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Or to put all this another way:
Wake up and smell the humus Robin!
The nanothermite were in the WTC because someone put them there – and the most reasonable explanation as to why someone would put 10-100 tonnes of highly specialised explosive in three civilian buildings is 'to destroy them'.
Now we obviously don't who did it this, but your position of “Yes there were explosives in the building, but since we don't know who or why it is unreasonable to assume that the explosives had anything to do with the destruction of the WTC or were intended for any such purpose” demonstrates either a knowing obfuscation or a complete leave of your senses.
I suggest you read
Yes, I read them and found them extremely unpersuasive. All three throw out some dazzling stuff, analysis of the iron spheres or the chips in minute detail; then come the conclusions. The first paper leaps to the conclusion that the process that produced the spheres must be the process that produced the collapse. There were hot fires, other people said so too, not a new result, yet the vast majority of the paper's content. Exothermic reactions could explain it, so could nuclear reactions, or gnomes with blowtorches, or a configuration of a massive amount of organic materials burning with wind or chimney driven draft conditions.
The second paper is more of the same: much ado about VOCs, and temporary flareups in the fire (with spikes in detected VOCs), then, essentially, "could just be the fire found new stuff to burn--but it could be thermite!"
The third paper is kind of interesting, but the conclusion is so weak. Turns out the chips aren't like any thermite you can find, they ignite at a much lower temperature. So they're probably "superthermites," of which none were available for comparison.
These guys started out way back saying thermite was responsible for the cut columns at Ground Zero, now that that's over, and it seems thermite is over too, we're on to super-thermites, the properties of which are unknown even to the paper's authors. They're throwing every thing at the wall to see what sticks.
So yeah, I read the papers.
@The other guy
Well The Open Chemical Physics Journal obviously does. Do they? The paper was accepted. That doesn't confer legitimacy on any other Jones paper. The paper's title is provocative but its conclusions are weak, most of the content is analysis of the chips, which turns out not to match known thermites. I'd like to see a different team analyze the samples, or even better, different samples, because yeah, I don't trust them.
Are you implying that the Open Chemical Physics Journal does not employ standard peer-reviewing procedures?
No. I am stating outright that the Jounal of 9/11 Studies does not.
It is difficult to grasp what you actually do believe.
Maybe for you.
Are you claiming that Jones et al did not find active thermitic material in the WTC dust? Is he therefore lying? Are all his colleagues and the staff of the Open Chemical Physics Journal engaged in a massive conspiracy to make you believe they found something that was not there?
I consider the probability they are lying to be small but not zero. It's more possible that they are sincere but very mistaken. Peer review is not all that good at stopping fraud, and does not stop crappy papers from being published either. And neither the reviewers nor the staff of the journal need to be involved in any conspiracy for the study to be false. Reproducibility of the results by an independent group would be a good thing.
The rest of your post is irrelevant to the subject
No it's not. It's relevant to the first two papers more than the third, which seems to be your focus.
Unfortunately you forget to reference even one.
Um, is that the standard we're holding blog comments to? Can't you just google it? I don't think it's a very bold assertion. Normal organic materials plus plentiful oxygen can produce temperatures sufficient to melt iron. Just ask Bessemer, or Huntsman.
And by the way, I did smell the burning pit at ground zero from miles away, days after 9/11. And so did lots of other people. It's called an aside, dude, you don't have to be a prick about it.
No, in other words "There were nanothermites present, so it was probably nanothermites."
But the paper doesn't say that. The authors don't know what nanothermites look like because the've never seen any.
I find the controlled demolition theory extremely dubious. Both towers were over 3 times taller than the largest building ever brought down by controlled demolition. Wiring them with explosives would require large amounts of people, materials, and time. Furthermore, if anything goes wrong with the demolition then the conspiracy is basically completely exposed (ex: some of the explosives could have failed to go off, the timing could have been off and the towers could have collapsed at a different rate than that predicted by our knowledge of physics, bad timing could have caused a part of the tower to fall sideways instead of vertically, etc.). If this happened, then the consequences would be catastrophic for the conspiracy planners.
I also propose that the probability of a conspiracy being discovered goes up exponentially in relation to the number of people involved. The number of people required for this conspiracy would have been quite large.
The controlled demolition theory is not a rational theory to default to when the primary theory has holes.
Hrm... The thermite thing is something that needs to be explained. That doesn't necessarally mean "the gov't did it", but it is still something that needs to be explained.
Wait, thermite is basically a mix of aluminum and iron oxide, right?
So big steel frame building, big aluminum aircraft crashing into it... Any chance that the "thermite" that was found didn't exist as thermite prior to the attack? ie, that it was, well, just a mix of, well, bits of plane and bits of building? (or is that a really stupid idea on my part?)
Rethink the scenario without planes, where the terrorists used only explosives to bring down the towers. Wouldn't that raise a number of questions? Like, how could they place all these explosives without being seen?
Nonsense. It would be incredibly easy to craft a story: They were disguised as electricians doing routine maintenance. That story would be FAR easier to pull off than a string of fake hijackings that had no real point other than to be a decoy for the real reason the buildings crashed.
David, did you actually read any of the Jones papers?
Wonderboy, I didn't claim the thermite came only from WTC7. I don't assume I know where all the CIA offices were; the point is that there could be a lot of strange organizations with offices there. We have to judge the relative likelihood of two a priori unlikely hypotheses.
"I don't consider Steven Jones or his paper a credible source."
Well The Open Chemical Physics Journal obviously does. Are you also saying you do not consider this a credible journal? If not, why?
"Calling the journal "peer-reviewed" is an abuse of the term."
Are you implying that the Open Chemical Physics Journal does not employ standard peer-reviewing procedures? What evidence do you have to support this claim?
It is difficult to grasp what you actually do believe. Are you claiming that Jones et al did not find active thermitic material in the WTC dust? Is he therefore lying? Are all his colleagues and the staff of the Open Chemical Physics Journal engaged in a massive conspiracy to make you believe they found something that was not there?
The rest of your post is irrelevant to the subject - but what the hell.....
You start off with the very bold assertion that:
"In reality there is plenty of historical evidence of plain old forest fires burning hot enough to melt steel rails, collapse metal bridges, etc. No jet fuel or nanothermites required."
Undeterred, you go on to offer some highly credible olfactory-based evidence (perhaps Jones should have gone with the more provocative title: "New evidence possibly challenges what David thought he smelled on 9/11") and assert that "Robin lets Jones get away with comparing the fire to a typical house fire and citing air temperatures that are clearly averages over large area."
Without wishing to defend Robin (whose own take on the issue was also weak) he did at least appear to have grasped what the most significant issue is- something you have clearly failed to do (the clue is in the title David). Failing to grasp this point you allow yourself to get bogged down in irrelevant technicalities.
You then give us the Zen-like insight that "The mysteries are not fed by evidence but by ignorance" and site a paragraph which you obviously have not fully understood. For your benefit I will highlight the important part:
The characteristics of these un-extinguishable fires have not been adequately explained as the results of a normal structure fire, even one accelerated by jet fuel. Conversely, such fires are better explained given the presence of chemical energetic materials , which provide their own fuel and oxidant and are not deterred by water, dust, or chemical suppressants.
"In other words, WTC was not a normal fire, so it was probably nanothermites."
"And those hoofbeats I hear must be zebras, not horses."
To assume zebras when you hear hoofbeats is illogical, for you are attributing the effect to the least probable cause. But if someone produces a scientific paper proving that zebras were present at the time of the hoofbeating, your refusal to acknowledge this because "Horses could have made that noise" is just ignorant.
I don't consider Steven Jones or his paper a credible source. He is co-founder and co-editor of the "Journal of 9/11 studies," which published the paper. Calling the journal "peer-reviewed" is an abuse of the term. Other work by Jones starts with his belief that Jesus visited America and--lo and behold--he finds supporting "evidence." This paper follows a similar pattern.
In reality there is plenty of historical evidence of plain old forest fires burning hot enough to melt steel rails, collapse metal bridges, etc. No jet fuel or nanothermites required. Two giant fires burining 1000 feet in the air, and later one immense fire--I smelled it 7 miles away on 112th St.--70 feet underground, with all sorts of plastics and other fuel loads, plus endless sources of combustion air from underground tunnels, but Robin lets Jones get away with comparing the fire to a typical house fire and citing air temperatures that are clearly averages over large area.
The mysteries are not fed by evidence but by ignorance. This paragraph from the Springerlink paper illustrates the mindset:
The characteristics of these un-extinguishable fires have not been adequately explained as the results of a normal structure fire, even one accelerated by jet fuel. Conversely, such fires are better explained given the presence of chemical energetic materials, which provide their own fueland oxidant and are not deterred by water, dust, or chemical suppressants.
In other words, WTC was not a normal fire, so it was probably nanothermites. And those hoofbeats I hear must be zebras, not horses.
As you are aware, the World Trade Center was a complex of buildings. Of the three destroyed on 9/11 (Towers 1, 2 and 7) only WTC7 had a CIA office in it and this building was not destroyed until much later in the day.
So, to follow your first scenario through:
The sample that was collected by a Manhattan resident about ten minutes after the collapse of the second WTC Tower (i.e. at approximately 10:40am) probably contained traces of nano-thermite in it because a different building, which would not collapse for another six hours (at 5:20pm), had a CIA office in it.
Bravo on a tremendous leap of logic.
And let us not even get into why a CIA office would even have such explosives in it, let alone 'big chunks'(10-100 tonnes according to one of the paper's authors.)
You should rename this site "Overcoming Insanity".
With regard to some of the other nonsense on here:
@ Jason Kuznicki
"It's simply that most of us realize gains from the division of labor, while the Truthers have opted not to."
I suggest you take a look at some of the qualification on show here.
"I'm not familiar with nano-thermites, but thermite is simply a mixture of aluminum and iron oxide (rust). I would think there would be an abundance of those two materials within the building, and the jet fuel would create high enough temperatures to ignite it."
That makes as much sense as saying, "I am not familiar with nano-apple pies, but there was enough apples and pastry in that building...". Nano-thermite is engineered.
Rethink the scenario without planes, where the terrorists used only explosives to bring down the towers. Wouldn't that raise a number of questions? Like, how could they place all these explosives without being seen? Then you would immediately have a suspicion against the ones responsible for the towers.
With the current official story there is no connection between the towers and the terrorists before the moment of impact. Isn't that a valid reason for using both planes and explosives? Using the planes could even have two purposes: Hiding the fact that there were explosives planted (to make sure the towers collapsed) and having all newsmedia in the world broadcasting the collapse in realtime.
With both planes and explosives there are of course a number of other questions without answer. How did they synchronize the operation? How did they make sure the planes would hit with good enough precision? But just because you don't have answers to these questions you can't falsify the theory that both planes and explosives were used in bringing down the towers.
I am from Sweden and have no emotional involvement in the matter, although I find it very interesting. I have not made up my mind of what I think really happened. I just know that there are a number of peculiarities surrounding the event.