I wrote part 1 a while back, but it started getting a bit long. The whole topic of truth and knowledge and conspiracies can fill many books worth. Again, for brevity I’ll call the theory that explosives were used to demolish the buildings X.
So, onto some actual research. Could the official story support what actually happened when the World Trade Centre collapsed?
Let’s look at some of the common evidence supplied by popular sites that support the theory that explosives were used. Most of these sites are incredibly badly designed. Their inability to do simple HTML reflects badly on their ability to analyse the reasons for a building’s collapse (as well as making it difficult for me to see what they’re actually on about), but I’ll try not to let that bias me. David Icke’s site is full of ads for his books, hyping him up as the world’s most controversial author, as well as pushing something called Monatomic Gold, a concoction that supposedly ‘heal[s] the body, encourage[s] spiritual growth and enlightenment and even “alter[s] gravity, space and time”. Yes well. I’ve got some of that growing on the hills behind me. So, on the the ‘evidence’.
1) Claims that the supporting steel structures could not possibly have melted in the fire, and therefore other explosives were necessary to destroy the structure.
X often quotes experts demolishing the theory that the steel could have melted. Unfortunately, this is a straw man. The government response on the day was that the steel had melted. This was a claim made with little or no investigation, and turned out to be false. That it did turn out to be false is used to imply, or ‘prove’ 🙂 that the only other option is human explosives. This is that wooly thinking again, being led by one fact to a theory that isn’t logically connected. The steel didn’t melt. No ‘experts’ would deny this. Steel melts at 1500°C, and it’s highly unlikely the fire could have reached this temperature. Steel starts to soften at 425°C and loses 50% of its strength at 650°C. But even this alone wouldn’t explain the collapse. However, steel expands thermally, and the localised nature of the fires would mean that the steel would weaken in a non-uniform manner, causing residual stresses, and buckling. It’s this loss of structural integrity that caused the collapse. The building wasn’t particularly strong – it was designed to be tall, remember. Each floor could apparently support about 1300 tonnes above it’s own weight. When the supports on the most heavily burnt floor/s gave way, this was easily exceeded, and the lower floors could no longer support the floors above them.
2) The ‘neat’ collapse of the building could not have been caused by anything other than explosives
The floors were mostly air, so they would collapse into themselves. The impact of the planes would not have had enough impact to move the center of gravity outside the building’s footprint, which would have caused them to collapse sideways (this fact is also used to support the explosives theory, but it’s true that the actual impact of the planes was minimal). So the building could hardly have collapsed any other way. Each floor could not support much more than the weight of another floor once the supports were weakened, and so once the process began it would build upon it’s own momentum, like dominoes.
3) Eyewitness accounts of explosions.
This seems even less convincing. When a building is on fire and collapses, of course there’s going to be all sorts of loud thumping sounds that sound like explosions to frantic firefighters inside the building. And all sorts of things inside the building will catch fire, causing those white puffs that have been used as support for X, such as gas pipes.
4) The building’s designer apparently claiming that the building could never have collapsed in this way.
I couldn’t find a source for this claim, and the designer died years before the attacks, so he wouldn’t have known the details. And of course, the Titanic wasn’t supposed to sink, was it? Let’s bring in another expert opinion. The building was designed to use asbestos to protect against fires. Instead, for cost reasons, this was scaled down to fibreglass. At the time, Herbert Levine (who admittedly had a vested interest as head of AsbestosSpray), told people in 1991 that if a fire breaks out above the 64th floor (where asbestos stopped) the building will fall down..
There’s other ‘evidence’ for X, but the primary evidence is for me in total disrepute, and the nature of these sorts of theories is that they’re easy to construct, and much harder to pull down. But lets turn things around. Why would people believe X? Here are some reasons, all of course related.
1) Bad science. They just don’t understand enough of the details. A convincing fact from an expert (such as that the steel couldn’t have melted) that’s used in isolation, and with wooly thinking stands as proof.
2) A related reason – bad logic, or being lured by a chain of facts. Real conspiracies abound, lies about Bin Laden, Iraq, politicians fanning fear to convince the public to support ever more odious laws. It’s easy to construct a chain of facts that the reader already believes, lulling them into saying ‘yes, yes, yes’ and then slipping in something that isn’t actually the case, but sounds true.
3) A psychological prepensity to believe in X. This reason’s more interesting for me. The nature of belief. Taking more orthodox views, people choose to believe all sorts of things. I made a comment on a talk page on Wikipedia recently about US Republicans supporting such notorious regimes as Zaire’s Mobuto Sese Seko during the Cold War, and an American flew into a rage, replying in a long diatribe about evil communists etc. For most of us, our beliefs are part of our identity. When they’re challenged, it affects who we think we are. For example, we believe George Bush is a nice guy. When it comes out he lied about the reasons for invading Iraq, we happily ignore this, giving him the benefit of the doubt, buying into the arguments about Saddam not being nice and deserving to go anyhow, or some other alternative justification. And that’s how it carries on. Most people choose to believe theories that support what they currently believe already. And where these beliefs come from is part of the complex mix that makes us all human.
Those people who pay enough attention to finding the truth, and respect it enough to shift their beliefs in order to accomodate it, are all too rare, and deserve the utmost respect.
- Why did the World Trade Center Collapse: Science, Engineering and Speculation.
- National Institute of Standards and Technology
- Department of Civil Engineering
- Collapse of the World Trade Centre, on Wikipedia
- David Icke
There’re many many others, but I didn’t record them all, especially those that support X. You won’t have any trouble finding them on Google.