May 11 2010

Dialogue with a 9/11 Truther

Eric Carlson, a listener of the SGU, is also a self-described 9/11 truther. He has written an extensive, if belated, reply to our discussion of claims made by 9/11 conspiracy theorists back in September of 2005. For a change of pace I thought I would answer some of his points.

I will start by noting that Eric is quite respectful throughout and does what few people, in my experience, do – he admits legitimate points on the other side, rather than finding some way to dismiss every single point we make, valid or not.  For brevity I will not review the points on which he agrees with us. You can read them for yourself on his blog post. I will simply summarize/quote his points of contention and respond.

His first point has to do with melting steel. We pointed out that, while the temperatures of the fires at the WTC towers were not hot enough to melt steel, they were hot enough to weaken the steel sufficiently to cause the collapse. Eric admits this point, but then counters:

While the Skeptic present a strong argument based on the limited facts they present, they fail to note the existence of Molten Steel in the wreckage.  While the Skeptics may call this point anomaly hunting, the educated Conspiracy Theorists will demand that physical evidence be included in the analysis.

This is an assumed premise followed by a straw man. Eric does something I find extremely common among conspiracy theorists – prematurely assuming facts that have not been established. As they say in court (at least on TV), “Objection, assumes facts not in evidence.”

At the very least the “molten steel” argument is controversial, at worst debunked. The explanation for the apparent liquid metal in pictures and video is that it is melted aluminum from the jets themselves. Jet’s contain a great deal of aluminum, which would melt at the temperatures of the WTC fires, and that metal dripped down and could be seen in some video evidence. This is the explanation accepted by NIST engineers who have reviewed the evidence.

Further, while this is a bit of anomaly hunting on the part of conspiracy theorists, we never argued that evidence should not be considered in an analysis (that’s the straw man), just that you have to actually analyze the evidence.

He continues:

Another argument the educated Conspiracy Theorist will pose is as follows: There was a huge fireball when the planes hit the building and that means that a portion of the fuel load was depleted in the initial fire ball.  The remaining fuel in the building produced heat and heat rises, so the floors adjacent to the plane and above are the floors where up 90% of the steels strength may have been lost.  The remaining 70 or so floors were not on fire (WTC1 was hit on floor 93 and above while WTC2 hit on floor 81) and did not loose up to 90% of their strength yet provided virtually no resistance during the free fall collapse of these two towers.

The premise that “heat rises” is false, although a common misconception. Heat has no inherent tendency to rise. It will, in fact, radiate out in all directions. Relatively hotter air will rise above relatively cooler air, and this will carry a disproportionate amount of heat up to higher floors, but the fire would still radiate heat to the floors below. Also, steel is a really good conductor of heat, and so as the steel columns became very hot they would have conducted that heat up and down the columns. Remember – the heat resistant coating on the columns was brittle and was knocked off from the initial crash and explosion.

Eric then assumes another fact not in general agreement – that the floors below the initiation of the collapse provided “virtually no resistance during the free fall.” This one still amazes me – 9/11 conspiracy theorists claim the towers fell at free fall (or faster), and yet you can count how long it takes for the towers to collapse and see that they are falling slower than free fall. Also, debris in the videos of the collapse falling at free fall and you can see it falling faster than the towers themselves.

Further we must consider how massive these towers were – built right to the edge of our technology at the time. Once the structure failed there would be little resistance to total collapse. Again – truthers are assuming what they naively think should happen in a very unusual situation. I trust the engineers to make a more objective assessment and they have – the tower collapses are consistent with the damage done by the jets.

Next Eric objects to some points that we address that he says are not generally agreed upon by truthers. I acknowledge this – we addressed the points that were being made, without claiming that every truther, or even a majority of truthers, hold to that claim. Every belief system has a range of beliefs which often even split into identified subgroups. So every time I make a point that is applicable to sun sign astrology, a sidereal astrologer will cry,  “unfair, that’s not real astrology.” It is valid for Eric to point out that a particular opinion may be in the minority among truthers, but that does not mean we should not address it.

His final point has to do with the Pentagon video, about which he writes:

Conspiracy Theorists have only two points that are universally agreed to in regards to the Pentagon.  Point one is that the single video of the Pentagon crash (taken from a nearby convenience store) is poor quality.  And point two is that the Pentagon roof is ringed with video cameras and none of these cameras have had there recordings released.  While this is not proof; this is curios.
So, while the Skeptics say there is no proof outside the unreliable eye witness testimony, they fail to note the suppressed video from the 50 or so cameras mounted on the crash side of the Pentagon and facing the crash area.  While theses missing camera records are not brought up by the Skeptics, it is just these types of omissions that demand educated people be Skeptical of the official story.

Again – this is classic conspiracy theorist anomaly hunting. Where are the videos we think should exist. This is not evidence of a conspiracy, it just raises questions that coyly imply there is a conspiracy.

But there are very prosaic explanations for the lack of video. Surveillance cameras typically are low resolution and have a slow frame rate – to save on storage space. Further, imagine you are setting up a security perimeter around the Pentagon. Are you going to aim the cameras up at empty blue sky? Probably not. The cameras would be angled down to capture the grounds around the Pentagon. Anything other than a camera pointing in the distance in the direction of the plane flying in would have seen, at best, only a quick blur as the plane flew through its field of view. There is therefore no reason to expect that any surveillance camera had a useful view of the jet that crashed into the Pentagon.

There is an additional, although unnecessary, point to be made (as the camera angle point is sufficient here). The Pentagon is the nerve center of our Department of Defense. I imagine that there is a tremendous amount of secrecy surrounding the Pentagon and its security. It is therefore reasonable to assume that any video of the Pentagon that could potentially reveal such secrets, such as details of its defense, would be kept from the public. Since such video is unlikely to settle the 9/11 truther controversy, there would be little point to releasing it. Even the number and location of security cameras, and their field of view, can be considered a matter a security.

Conclusion

While I appreciate the respectful tone Eric took in his response, his points have been picked over before and all have been dealt with. After almost 9 years there is still no actual evidence of an inside conspiracy on 9/11 2001. Engineers and other experts have analyzed the evidence to death, and it is all compatible with the standard story. The truthers cling to whispy thin anomalies that do not amount to anything of interest.

Further, no mainstream journalist has tried to win a Pulitzer by exposing a cover up. The Democrats are now in charge, with a new administration, and they are not interested in exposing an alleged heinous plot of the previous Republican administration – even though tensions between the two parties are at an historic high. The only response I have heard from truthers on these points is to expand the conspiracy – they are all involved, both parties and the media.

Such grand conspiracies collapse under their own weight faster the the WTC towers.

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30 responses so far

30 Responses to “Dialogue with a 9/11 Truther”

  1. The Dicklomaton 11 May 2010 at 9:46 am

    I am an architect of over 20 years with steel construction and and tall tower experience, having coordinated design teams including Structural Engineers.

    The short & sweet on evidence related to building science, from my perspective, after having spent a week in intense correspondance with a hardened Truther: Everything that happened in these collapses according to the “Standard Theory” of fuel-filled planes alone falling the buildings without planned demolition assistance is either…

    (a) consistent with what I already knew about bulding dynamics BEFORE they fell or
    (b) makes perfect sense with what I have learned about building dynamics since 2001
    (c) suitable to the concensus of Structural Engineers that I work with

    Furthermore…

    1) The standard theory is complete enough to not beg for an alternate hypothesis, however welcome for argument sake.
    2) Any alternate theory (ie – demolition) would have to be EXDTREMELY persuasive in order to trump the standard theory
    3) All alternative theories I have heard to date fail to hold a candle to the explainatory power of the standard theory. “Childish” and “Laughable” are the terms that best describe them.

  2. The Dicklomaton 11 May 2010 at 10:11 am

    BTW – My sparring opponent in ths debate sent me a link to a petition in which apparantly 1,000 or so Architects signed to their discomfort with the standard theory (note the loose and very inclusive wording of the statement that looks eerily similar to the “teach the controversy” battle cry of the IDiot)…

    http://www.ae911truth.org/

    I checked the detail signature list petition and of the 1,200 or so co-signers, there are only about 250-275 who appear to be registered members of the American Institute of Architects (the rest were students, their mothers, pets, virtual pets, etc), giving me a baseline for developing a statistic. The AIA website shows 85,000 registered members, therefore the petition represents 0.3% of the eligible population. 1 in 300 Architects agree! Pathetic by any standard.

    This reminded me of the Creationists’ lists of “scientists” who dissent from “Darwinism”, to which the NCSE’s hilariously responded with “Project Steve”. I recall that at last count, there were 1137 Steves for Evolution vs 8 Steves against, with the “Evolutionist” Steves having the far greater proportion of scientists.

    I am confident that a similar response from Architect Steves on the 911 issue would produce a similar result in favour of the standard theory.

  3. CrookedTimberon 11 May 2010 at 11:03 am

    Nice rebuttal Steve, but it usually just invites a whole spate of unrelated, disjointed questions usually in rapid succession from fellow truthers.

    Regarding the Pentagon, I am not familiar with what the truthers alternate claim is. There was a very real flight filled with very real passengers that day. How do they explain these missing people? Do they really believe that 1.) The government diverted the plane somewhere else and murdered all the passengers. or 2.) The flight never existed and all the grieving families and funerals are a sham and part of the cover up? Either option is just batshit insane.

    Does anyone know what the majority of truthers believe happened to that flight?

  4. Steven Novellaon 11 May 2010 at 11:57 am

    The truther film I saw claimed the plane was diverted and the passengers murdered by the government.

    The only plausible alternative is that it was diverted and crashed into the sea, or something like that.

    Otherwise you have the missing jet and passengers to explain, which is a pretty big hole to fill.

  5. The Dicklomaton 11 May 2010 at 12:04 pm

    Would have been easier for the Gov’t to have just flown it into the Pentagon anyways. Would have saved themselves the cost of the missle, which they would have had to expense to someone’s budget…

  6. banyanon 11 May 2010 at 12:59 pm

    When I was in college I knew a lot of 9/11 truthers. It was all part of the ridiculous “We hate Bush more than you do” mentality among many of us who were politically active.

    I usually found they were quite convinced by this video of Noam Chomsky explaining why there was no 9/11 conspiracy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzGd0t8v-d4

    He doesn’t say anything more than what any reasonable person would say based on the initial plausibility of the claim, but because it’s coming from Chomsky, they found it a lot more persuasive.

  7. entelechy77on 11 May 2010 at 1:09 pm

    Also, debris in the videos of the collapse falling at free fall and you can see it falling faster than the towers themselves.

    In the minds of Truthers, this is still “too fast.” Not that any of them understand enough about structures to competently comment on whether the “massive steel core” offers “resistance” to the collapse. (It does, but not very much.)

    I think that a lot of what motivates the demolition theory is that people don’t want to accept how fragile skyscrapers can be. They’ve seen all sorts of ridiculous movie scenes where high rises fall over like trees or where giant monsters crash through them, leaving a hole, and they think that’s what happens in real life. For some people, the demolition theory is a flight to security. They don’t want to live in a universe where destroying a skyscraper is relatively simple. Alas, that’s the universe we live in.

  8. chaos4zapon 11 May 2010 at 2:00 pm

    Other than the fact that just about all claims made by the truther’s have been exhaustively addressed, there is one fundamental question that is often skipped. Before you even get into debating the specifics, an important question must be answered: Why would terrorist take credit for the attack if the Bush administration was responsible? Would the terrorist not recognize that demonstrating that our own government did this and is only blaming it on them, would cause chaos a complete distrust in government, impeachment and complete pandemonium? I asked a truther this once and his response was (and I’m not making this up), that the bush administration and the terrorists were working together. So….apparently, the whole war on terror has also been nothing more than a complicated farce to hide the fact that the US is actually friends with the terrorists? Once someone’s critical thinking goes that far off the deep end, not only can I not continue the conversation, but it is extremely difficult to treat this person like anything more than a child. Get him a bib before he drools on his brand new “my mommy’s #1” shirt.

  9. gr8googlymooglyon 11 May 2010 at 2:05 pm

    From Steve’s post:

    “Also, debris in the videos of the collapse falling at free fall and you can see it falling faster than the towers themselves.

    This is the one that always gets me. You can clearly see debris falling out and away from the towers that is falling faster than the main mass of the building. Yet the truther is able to ignore this and still claim the building is in ‘free fall’. I then point out that this could only be possible if the peripheral debris was falling faster than free fall. When asked to speculate how this could happen, I find they jump to another anomaly without acknowledging their major flaw. This is when I exit the ‘conversation’ as my opponent is clearly disingenuous.

  10. bartWon 11 May 2010 at 2:20 pm

    Steve,

    You are most likely incorrect in your explanation of point 1 about the “molten steel”.

    There are two issues here – one is the molten yellowish liquid that is getting out of the building, and it most certainly is not molten aluminium. The most probable hypothesis I’ve seen is the one which says that these are the molten batteries from the UPS that was located exactly at that floor. And this sounds (for me) plausible both in terms of colour of the liquid, and temperatures necessary for firing up the batteries.

    Good explanation is here: http://11-settembre.blogspot.com/2007/02/ups-on-81st-floor-of-wtc2.html

    Another aspect are the high temperatures present under the rubble of WTC 1, 2 and 7 for the whole weeks. I believe popular mechanics did explain how simple exothermic chemical reaction could actually be responsible for this, without the necessity of turning to the hypothesis of explosives. For some reason many debunkers fail to mention this topic, and it breeds unnecessary impression that they don’t have the explanation for it.

    Here’s a good overview on that: http://www.debunking911.com/moltensteel.htm (at the 4/5th of the page, search for exothermic and you’ll get it).

    Interestingly, there have been some interesting development on Silversteen recently with Shapiro’s article, where he writes:
    “Shortly before the building collapsed, several NYPD officers and Con-Edison workers told me that Larry Silverstein, the property developer of One World Financial Center was on the phone with his insurance carrier to see if they would authorize the controlled demolition of the building – since its foundation was already unstable and expected to fall.”

    Which might suggest that Larry’s “pull” was in fact a freudean slip, and the CTs were right here, however for the wrong reason. And there was no conspiracy, just a guy who wanted to make sure he’ll get some money from the insurance. Shapiro later argues that the building fell by itself – which is possible, CTs argue that there is a video with the countdown – which is possible as well. None proves any kind of conspiracy or that the US Govt organized 9/11 in any way.

    The rest is here:
    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2010/04/22/jeffrey-scott-shapiro-jesse-venture-book-lies-truthers-ground-zero-sept-shame/

    Keep up the great work, I enjoy both your blog and SGU podcast.

  11. kennykjcon 11 May 2010 at 2:54 pm

    Interesting that you say steel is such a good conductor of heat. I’ve had many truthers say that this is the reason the steel could not fail, because the heat would be “wicked away” before it weakened the steel.

    My reply is to say that steel isn’t THAT good of a heat conductor because if you watch blacksmits – they can heat up one end of a steel rod until it glows orange hot whilst holding the other end with their bare hand.

  12. Calli Arcaleon 11 May 2010 at 3:54 pm

    The “faster than free fall” claim always baffles me. I don’t care how the buildings were demolished — faster than free fall would imply propulsion, and I haven’t seen any 9/11 truther claim that. Wouldn’t matter if a plane caused it, or a controlled demolition; the bits can’t fall any faster than whatever their terminal velocity will be under freefall conditions, unless all of the bits have rocket motors strapped onto them for no readily discernible reason. The claim is inconsistent not only with the observed reality, it is also inconsistent with their theories.

    Never mind the overwhelming evidence that they’re falling noticably slower than a 1G acceleration. The idea of them falling faster than 1G is, frankly, batshit insane. I think a lot of truthers don’t think it through enough to realize just what it is they’re claiming.

    But there are very prosaic explanations for the lack of video. Surveillance cameras typically are low resolution and have a slow frame rate – to save on storage space. Further, imagine you are setting up a security perimeter around the Pentagon. Are you going to aim the cameras up at empty blue sky? Probably not.

    I live in the Twin Cities, and a couple of years ago we lost a major bridge during rush hour. There were a few conspiracy theories, but not many; too many people knew somebody involved on some level, and I think that kept a lot of folks grounded. One thing I heard was that it was suspicious there was only one video of the actual collapse. MN-DOT has cameras all over the Twin Cities freeway system for traffic management purposes, and one has a great view of the I-35W bridge over the Mississippi. Why don’t we see clips from that one? Why just the grainy, low-frame-rate security cam view? The answer turned out to be very simple. There was only one camera specifically meant to photograph the bridge (the security cam footage was a lucky bonus; it was really aimed at a parking lot in the foreground), and like all MN-DOT traffic cameras, it had the ability to pan. The operator at the time was looking south, towards the notoriously tangled I-35W/I-94 interchange and downtown Minneapolis. It’s often looking that way, even now, because that region is prone to traffic jams. In the video recording from that camera, you see traffic moving fairly smoothly, albeit busy, and then abruptly coming to a complete halt on the northbound side. The operator immediately panned the camera around . . . revealing the bridge to be completely gone.

    I’m sure the same sort of thing explains the lack of security cam footage of the Pentagon attack. Each camera would be trained on a very specific area. Whether or not they photographed the aircraft would’ve been total luck — and as that particular section was being renovated, I wouldn’t be too surprised if some of the cameras were temporarily out of commission. Not that the DoD would be keen on announcing such a thing. It would be a big “please hit here” sign. And as Steve explains so well, revealing where the cameras are positioned would have a cost that would exceed the value, especially if none of the cameras were in a position to get worthwhile footage.

  13. Steven Novellaon 11 May 2010 at 4:17 pm

    bart – I had not heard the battery theory, thanks for the link. Even in the discussion of the aluminum theory they state that the aluminum likely mixed with other materials – it wasn’t pure.

    I think both explanations are playing a role. Some of the evidence for molten steel was the flowing from around the 81st floor, but some were pools in the wreckage, and other video.

    The bottom line is that there were sources of alloys in the plane and the building that would melt at the likely temperatures involved, and there is no reason to invoke molten steel. There are also problems with the molten steel hypothesis, as the links you provide above point out.

  14. HHCon 11 May 2010 at 5:43 pm

    Its interesting for me to listen to the persons present at the 9/11 sites describe it. How do you describe a man-made disaster of this proprotion? You would describe it from your personal work experiences in America. If you visited a foundry or watched building demolitions, you would draw on your past memories to describe current events. None of these folks are forensic specialists, or for that matter the structural engineers or architects responsible for conceptualization of the Towers.

  15. ccbowerson 11 May 2010 at 5:50 pm

    It looks like Steve is also involved in the cover up. But seriously…

    I am often surprised at the thinking of conspiracy theorists. They are often more intelligent than average, and until you engage them in a conversation about a conspiracy you would never guess that they hold such beliefs. I have been surprised on more than one occasion when a person I knew (or thought I knew) went off on some unbelievable conspiracy theorist tangent.

    I have yet to really grasp the reason why this phenomonon exists in some people (whose brains otherwise seem to work fine). I see its utility in general… real conspiracies do occur and there are enough examples in the real world to fuel such beliefs (in some countries more than others). Also having people always looking to conspiracies may keep some would-be conspirators honest.

    I wonder how the stability of a government affects the amount of conspiracy thinking in a population. Although don’t know about the evidence for this, it seems that more corrupt governements would foster the conspiracy line of thinking more. If you can’t trust much of what you are told… the truth is left to your imagination.

  16. martbayon 11 May 2010 at 9:08 pm

    I don’t really believe that the government (or whoever) would make such a grand scale exercise out of destroying these buildings. However, I wouldn’t be suprised that the Bush administration knew of certain Al Qaeda plans and simply chose to ignore the “intel”. Politically, 9/11 came at a perfect time.

  17. The Dicklomaton 12 May 2010 at 6:03 am

    Perhaps there are just as many conspiracy theories in countries with corrupt governments as there are in countries with relatively lawful governments; the difference being that in the corrupt countries, the “conspiracy” hypothesis is far more more plausible, by definition.

    If true, could it mean that lawfulness of a government is proportional to the number of truly wacko/mythological conspiracy theories that its population fabricates about it?

  18. The Dicklomaton 12 May 2010 at 6:10 am

    I hit “send” too quick…to complete that thought, I am coming from the position that people’s imaginations run wild in a void, so where there is no real conspiracy to get all riled up about, people invent them, and when they do so, those inventions are often poorly conceived and ultimately revealed to be “wacko”.

    So…

    Countries with corrupt governments tend to circulate sensible-sounding conspiracy theories
    Countries with lawful governments tend to circulate rediculous-sounding conspiracy theories

    Maybe?

  19. Redundanton 12 May 2010 at 9:18 am

    By the way, as far as a source of the aluminum, you don’t need the airplanes for that. The exterior of the building was covered in aluminum “curtainwall”. Most modern buildings have aluminum and glass exterior walls.

    I have a photo of melted aluminum in a localized fire in a couple of rooms in a high rise. So, flowing aluminum seems entirely plausible in a fire like the Towers had.

  20. Calli Arcaleon 12 May 2010 at 9:48 am

    Aluminum melts much more easily than people think. Cars caught up in forest fires will often have their wheel rims melt. So in the World Trade Center’s case, I’d be more surprised if there was no melted aluminum than if there was.

  21. John2on 12 May 2010 at 10:59 am

    There seems to be much confusion amongst the truthers about the rate of fall of the buildings. For one thing, as mentioned above, a faster than freefall movement would not say anything at all about what had caused the building to come down.

    Another point, though, is the question about what exactly you mean by the rate of fall. If you looked at the top of one of the towers, it’s certainly true that at most it should drop at g, but if you look at some other point to measure the rate, then it could easily be at a greater rate.

    For example, if you looked at the downward speed of the “crumple zone”, i.e. the lowest point at which bending was happening, then this could theoretically move at up to the speed of sound in steel. Hit a higher floor hard enough, and you get a compression wave heading down the structure that could then cause collapse in a weak floor below. It would be entirely possible that the top ten floors (for example) dropped onto the eleventh floor down, and that the next event was the start of a failure in a floor another ten below that, a small fraction of a second later.

    Given that the structure lower down is carrying much more weight than near the top, it’s perfectly plausible that the collapse point could move downwards extremely rapidly, and if you were naively using that to measure from, then you’d get a descent faster than freefall.

    There’s another way too that even a more sensible measurement could give you a fall greater than g. Let’s say that you measure the fiftieth floor, as it descends. This floor was not gently set free to drop under its own weight, it was hit from above with thousands of tonnes of metal travelling at a pretty high speed. It would, almost instantaneously, accelerate to nearly the same speed that that debris was falling, and so again would have an acceleration faster than g.

    I’ve seen truthers take their measurements in both the above ways (or at least claim to), and both can plausibly give faster than g falls, with no need for shenanigans at all. Basically their claim that it is suspicious is just not true.

    And that’s of course before we even get to the point that when you measure it accurately everything fell much slower than my examples above allow. It turns out that the surviving floors did all slow the descent just enough that the free debris fell ahead of them.

  22. ccbowerson 12 May 2010 at 11:16 am

    John2- Good points that are rarely mentioned. People forget that the entire building didnt just all fall at the same time, but parts of the building fell on other parts, sometimes creating downward forces, in addition to gravity.

    Dicklomat- “Countries with corrupt governments tend to circulate sensible-sounding conspiracy theories
    Countries with lawful governments tend to circulate rediculous-sounding conspiracy theories”,

    I was thinking that corrupt governments would result in more conspiracy theory all around – logical and otherwise. I would think that the people would become accustom to that way of thinking, since they may feel that they cannot trust what they are told from authorties. If many anti-government journalists die mysterious deaths, then it makes sense that perhaps they were killed… but in this setting I might not trust a lot of what my government is promoting even if it were legit and transparent.

  23. skeptigal42on 12 May 2010 at 2:15 pm

    Aside from the physics and the mechanics, the political aspects of the theory are pretty wild. None of the truthers I know seemed to be in touch with reality regarding the Bush administration, so facts just didn’t matter. They would read sinister messages into ambiguous statements. Any tiny unexplained detail was taken as further evidence. I really never even tried to reason with them, because it seemed to be a case of mass hysteria.

  24. taustinon 12 May 2010 at 7:16 pm

    The theory of deliberate demolition has never passed the laugh test for me, because of the amount of work (and explosives) necessary to do a job that big. It takes, literally, months to plan a big demo job, and weeks of work, with dozens, at least, of people all over the building, drilling holes in things, tearing out paneling, and planting explosives and running wiring to control them. For weeks. With ten thousand or more people working in the building ever day, many of them 24 hours a day. And nobody saw anything suspicious.

    Yeah, right.

  25. John2on 13 May 2010 at 2:42 am

    Yes, the idea that you could sneak in and plant explosives without anyone noticing is just ridiculous. I work in banking, and I had backroom staff in one of the towers. The office, while not always occupied, would have tended to have at least one or two people in there twenty four hours a day, and would also have had security camera coverage constantly, with off-site storage. I simply don’t know how anyone is supposed to have sneaked in a crew planting explosives in this environment.

    On the other hand, conspiracy theorists will decide that anyone with knowledge like mine is “in on it”, and not to be trusted. I’ve seen this when discussing a CERN conspiracy theory (there are people who believe CERN is developing an energy weapon, or some sort of energy technology to overthrow world governments). In that case, one proponent of the theory was going on about how it was clearly true, using a lot of arguments from final consequence, and dismissing my arguments against as uninformed. When I pointed out that I’d worked there as a physicist, he seamlessly switched to saying that nothing that I said could be trusted, because I had an interest in maintaining the conspiracy.

  26. The Dicklomaton 13 May 2010 at 8:04 am

    Aluminum, which melts at only 1200 F, is not permitted for use as an exposed material in fire rated construction for the very reason that it melts in a building fire. You can use it for studs in rated drywall systems, but that is only because it is protected by the rated drywall.

    You can’t use it in shaftwalls (walls that are built from the inside-out around tight vertical chases…usually through rated floor systems) because you cannot board the inside. For this reason, shaftwall studs must be made of steel.

    So, even people who aren’t familiar with specific melting points of various metals know enough about aluminum to deduce that is would be expected to melt in a building fire such as those at WTC, which reached as high as 2,000 F.

  27. The Dicklomaton 13 May 2010 at 8:08 am

    …in fact, when a non-rated partition terminates against a rated partition, we use aluminum clips to hold one to the other so that they stabilize each other. In the event of a fire, the aluminum clips MELT, allowing the non-rated partition to collapse without taking the rated one with it.

    A similar strategy is used for ductwork connections to the fire dampers at rated walls. The ductwork in the room can collapse from the fire destroying the supports without the ductwork pulling the rated wall down with it. The fire damper, which remains, closes automatically to keep the fire & smoke from getting into the adjacent space.

  28. The Dicklomaton 13 May 2010 at 8:14 am

    BTW – Steel loses it’s structural integrity between 1,000 F & 1,150 F, which is lower than even the melting point of aluminum. “Fire Melted Steel” is my favorite CT Straw-Man argument.

  29. CodeSculptoron 13 May 2010 at 1:38 pm

    I was actually there when it happened on 9/11. At the time, I worked in Manhattan. I was not in either tower, nor did I work at the WTC (and I don’t work for big-pharma, nor the gov’t — well, I pay taxes, so mebbe I do).

    I did see the planes (didn’t see the first one hit because my position wasn’t right for that), and I did hear the sounds, saw the collapses…

    I could see the windows of the second plane, but was way too far away to see any people in them. There were no pods on the planes or any such.

    What I have to admit as strange, was, as the first tower collapsed, I misinterpreted what I saw. The top of the tower vanished, clearly, I saw that happen. But I thought it was because of the cloud of dust. I think that I was unwilling to accept that the towers could collapse. Even as the top of the cloud of dust was a bit cleared and I could see that the top of the tower wasn’t there, I chalked it up to not knowing precisely where to look.

    Sounds stupid, eh? I was on the phone describing the whole thing to someone in London, and in retrospect, I felt kind of stupid. I recall mentioning the dust cloud is blocking the building and that I couldn’t see the top of the tower anymore.

  30. DLCon 16 May 2010 at 7:50 am

    But there was a conspiracy to blow up the world trade center towers, the pentagon and an undisclosed fourth building in Washington DC. It was conceived by Osama Bin Laden, planned out by Khalid Sheik Mohamed, bossed by team leader Mohamed Atta and carried out on what amounts to a shoestring budget of approximately 250,000 USD.
    Blaming this on the United States government is rank stupidity.
    Of course, the first thing the conspiracy nuts do when you point this out is to demand to know who’s paying your salary.
    It’s good to have critical thinking skills, but there’s a point at which you have to stop going into convulsions of paranoia and apply Occams’ razor. (Ockham’s ? you spell it.) The 9-11 conspiracy theories mostly are in bad need of a shave.

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