Sep

11

Pseudoscience, Real Terror: Part II

Written by

The second installment of Bwog correspondent Alex Weinberg’s exploration of the mental attack of 9-11 conspiracy theorists.

On September 8th, I went to Ground Zero and met with a number of 9/11 conspiracy theorists. They were generally young, white, educated males who lived far away from New York City. They were all very polite, if not a little overenthusiastic. Essentially, if it weren’t for all the black camouflage and “9/11 WAS AN INSIDE JOB” signs, they could pass for normal people.

It was a sweltering 87 degree day, and there were about three dozen of them gathered in front of the WTC Path station, wearing black shirts and varying styles of pant. The queen bee was a big tall guy in a bright yellow t-shirt that said “SECURITY” across the back. As the head honcho, he controlled a megaphone as conspiracy theorists took turns shouting into it. Clearly, the greatest scientific debates of our time have occurred at 140 decibels. Radiating outward from the fray, some conspiracy theorists were sent to hand out flyers and spread the word to passersby. I was one them, and I was ready to talk.

I soon found that after introducing myself and getting their stories down, we would fall into a pattern. They would start off by issuing the same arguments touted by big conspiratorial websites like infowars.com and 911truth.org, sometimes right down to the sentence. These were loaded and inaccurate claims like “the towers collapsed at free fall speeds,” “the towers fell into their own footprints,” and “World Trade Center Tower 7 looked like a controlled demolition.” This was all okay with me, as I had heard the arguments before and I was ready to challenge them, but apparently this was never part of the deal.

Perhaps the conspiracy theorists were unable to shift gears from “yelling at strangers all day” to “having a conversation,” but every time I pointed out a fallacy or flaw in their initial logic, they’d bowl right over it. They had taken the initiative to question the “official” account of the September 11th attacks, but it seemed like they had forgotten to question their own accounts too. Maybe if they ignored that and just overwhelmed me with words, something would stick.

Whenever I dared to ask a technical question, their answers were usually the same: “I’m not a scientist, but…,” which is pretty much the most damning way to start a sentence next to, “I’m not a racist, but…” If pressed for more information about their numbers or their math, they would hem and haw and refer me to a website or a video or some other non-speaking form of communication. “You can do the research yourself, online,” one guy from Maryland told me as he gave me his web address. A tip: Whenever anyone questions your facts in a debate, quote a medium of communication currently not in use. If you’re arguing online, assure your opponent that he can easily be proven wrong with a microfiche. If you’re talking on an iPhone, just refer to a smoke signal. There’s no need to prove yourself if your facts happen to be only available via hologram.

The whole thing was getting very frustrating, and I felt like I was in an endlessly recursive circle of conspiratorial logic. It was like being trapped in Escher’s Relativity, except all the staircases led to madness. As I made a final pass to leave, I came upon the highlight of my day: His name was Officer McGill, and he’s a member of the NYPD’s First Precinct. As we got to talking, he explained that he was in the North Tower as the South Tower collapsed, a line which is as great a conversation starter as I have ever heard.

McGill won the New York Post Liberty Medal in 2002 for his bravery, and he’s probably the best example of our species that I’ve ever met. He wouldn’t say exactly what he did to earn his medal, but if I were there on September 11th, I could picture him hauling my crying body out of the wreckage and finding me a Diet Coke. I began to ask him about the conspiracy theorists, still audible behind us. The nicest word he had to describe them was “misinformed,” but he didn’t even sound angry about it. He was there. He knew. As I spoke to him, he was doing his job: Keeping the street clear so that the conspiracy theorists could protest and call him a liar.

(On another note, Officer McGill informed me that the Burger King on 114 Liberty Street became a temporary morgue on September 12th and then became a Burger King again a year later. God Bless America.)

At the end of the day, all I got was a sunburn and this list of things that I have learned from 9/11 conspiracy theorists:

  • The government pulled off the most sophisticated attack ever on American soil, but they timed it so that Bush would be informed while reading “My Pet Goat” in a Florida classroom, making for the most famous “deer in headlights” moment in history.

  • The Bush administration would frame a large scale terrorist attack on Osama bin Laden, a man that they embarrassingly cannot find.

  • Tons upon tons of heavy explosives can be placed in 110 story office buildings without being noticed by thousands of employees, and can then be detonated without a trace of visual, audio, or seismic evidence.

  • World Trade Center Tower 7 (a 47 story building just north of the Twin Towers) was also demolished by the government, and for no apparent reason. (Personally, if I were in charge of a massive government conspiracy to destroy an American landmark and kill thousands, I’d also pay special attention to blow a nearby nondescript and unremarkable office building with nobody inside, because that would really get people riled up.)

  • The 140,000 members of the American Society of Civil Engineers? All part of the conspiracy.

  • The 9/11 Commission is bogus because they didn’t include the controlled demolition theory in their investigation. Similarly, the Warren Commission is rubbish for not examining the theory that JFK was killed by scorpions.

The 9/11 Truth Movement will try to teach you all of these facts, and they’ll be calling you a stupid ignorant sheep the whole time. Your political views don’t matter to them, because you’re either working to uncover the grand conspiracy, or you’re a lockstep neoconservative imperialist and you’re in on it too. You could be writing Michael Moore’s name onto your Spanish language ballot with a soy pen, but if you deny their shattered version of reality, you are a sheep.

But the real truth is that with their misguided groupthink, lack of self-criticism, and rejection of scientific consensus, the 9/11 conspiracy theorists are more sheep-like than any of us. They’re just part of a smaller flock.

Tags:

59 Comments

  1. hahah

    Similarly, the Warren Commission is rubbish for not examining the theory that JFK was killed by scorpions.

  2. fdsa  

    hey bwog where are the answers to the print crossword?

  3. yea

    he's completely right about that burger king as a morgue. i would never eat at that location. just too creepy.

  4. Capricious

    It's "The Pet Goat," not "My Pet Goat."

  5. Concerned Columbian

    These protesters are why there should be limits on how demonstrative public displays can be.

  6. truthie defender  

    i think the theories about 9/11 being an inside job are crap. the evidence, as outlined in the post, is very very thin.

    that said, i think the common total hostility to them is uncalled for. there's absolutely no a priori reason to rule out the possibility of agent provocateur actions by a 'liberal democracy'. cf operation northwoods, operation gladio:
    http://abcnews.go.com/US/Story?id=92662&page=2
    http://www.cambridgeclarion.org/press_cuttings/vinciguerra.p2.etc_graun_5dec1990.html

  7. nah  

    if these people weren't allowed to demonstrate in public, fewer people would really witness how stupid they are.

  8. Skeptic

    Once again, Weinberg offers little but invective. I'm sure he impresses himself, but I expect a little more from Columbia University.

    • uhh...  

      you want to back that up a little bit?

    • Anti-Skeptic  

      Sir or Madam, I don't think the onus is on Mr. Weinberg is to disprove the conspiracy theorists. I think you missed the point. He is pointing out that they strategy and method of presenting their argument does not hold water. I don't think he is trying to convience anyone that agrees with the theorists that their claims are invalid, he knows that they will not change their views. He is pointing out the fact that their inability to allow logical and unimpeeded discourse on both sides prevents their argument from meeting the standards of one reasonably posed.

      It has been proven, in legal grounds, that it is not unreasonable to depict a person who "simultaneously overestimate their own knowledge and ability and underestimate that of other persons, including that of acknowledged experts in the field" (Wikipedia) as a crank. Weinberg, kindly not using this term, follows the standards put forth in other cases: you can criticise the method by which someone comes to conclusions, and then call those conclusions inappropriate or unjustified if that first criticism of methodology has merit.

      To see how this argument works in a similar circumstance, see http://austringer.net/wp/index.php/2007/08/24/open-letter-from-peter-irons-to-stuart-pivar/

  9. wtf

    I was just down there. The place is fucking swarming with unwashed hippies. I wish the state was still allowed to forcibly commit the criminally insane. I just want to get to my fucking PATH train, not get preached by a fucking unwashed hippie.

  10. Skeptic

    All Weinberg has done is single out the looniest whackjobs of the bunch and use them to discredit anyone who isn't buying the U.S. government's official conspiracy tale.

    Alas, this is what passes for discourse in current-day America, even at its leading universities. We see this happening in every corner: the dumbing-down of discourse.

    The onus is on whoever advances a hypothesis to defend his hypothesis. Merely declaring your conclusions isn't enough, except perhaps when the evidence is self-evident, as it is when it comes to Weinberg's playing the reductio ad absurdum card.

    As a skeptic of the official story, I am willing to stipulate that the people holding signs on the street in Manhattan have a screw loose. But that's beside the point, unless like Weinberg your goal apparently is to match buffoonery with buffonery.

    Someone is wasting $45,000 a year on Mr. Weinberg.

    • Capitalist

      Please let me know which company you work for, so I can short their stock in anticipation of your discounted future negative impact on their earnings.

      • now there  

        is an investment strategy. short the stock of companies who employ rnadom people who make arguments on the internet that you disagree with. genius! why are you posting on bwog and not off running your hedge fund?

    • alexw  

      The article isn't about disproving the conspiracy theorists as their arguments already been disproven, thoroughly and soundly. Regardless, I am not going to write a piece about the bending moments on steel trusses because nobody would want to read it. If you want to learn about that, please go and pick up an actual science publication. This is a humor article on the Internet, and I think you're investing way too much in it.

      If you're really adamant in your skepticism of the factually supported account of the September 11th attacks, please provide your name and maybe some arguments, so that we can actually discuss like human beings.

    • ad hominem attacks  

      Stop using them.

    • Har har

      If you were a bit more incoherent, I'd swear you were struggle.

    • Skeptic is  

      demonstrably ugly.

  11. Soy Pen  

    "You could be writing Michael Moore's name onto your Spanish language ballot with a soy pen..."

    This is probably the best string of stereotypes I have ever read.

  12. Guy  

    I prefer Reductio ad Hitlerum, but Godwin's Law is always a problem there.

  13. rosie o'donnell  

    i'm getting hungry, weinberg.

  14. CUSJ defender  

    Very good article Alex,

    I sometimes wonder what their agenda is. Unlike other solicitors they don't seem quite so interested in my money. Maybe I've just never talked to one long enough to have him ask for a donation.

    I too have been confronted with the "Oh I can't tell you, but the information is out there, just look for yourself, it can't hurt" argument. The problem is that it can. By spending your time looking through and arguing against such theories you do not just waste your time. By even having a debate you equate the accepted position with theirs. It's as if a news show had two experts, one from Alex's beloved ASCE and another from ground zero (demontrably ugly or not). That setup elevates the conspiracy theory from annoying solicitation to conceivable reality.

    I hope that by refusing to research what I can already tell is overwhelmingly fallacious I am not "dumbing down discourse."

    No, in order to do that I would have to tell someone that $45,000 is being wasted on their education based on two articles they wrote, that would be reductio ad absurdum indeed.

  15. weyelll..  

    you'll always find nutjobs on the street, regardless of cause. just because environmental group canvassers are annoying, outspoken and sometimes not that bright; does that mean that global warming should be discounted?

    if you really care about this issue, then you should research who has the strongest and cleanest argument for the conspiracy theory and interview them.

    also, i do take issue with you using the term psuedoscience. psuedoscience is about presenting ideas in such a way where they appear to be scientific or authoritative when in fact, they are not. i would argue that your piece suffers from a similar affliction. you make lots of claims that come with strong credentials (references to science and engineering) without any references.

    without references, your claims are ultimately just as "psuedoscientific" as you claim theirs are.

  16. Bravo  

    Regarding Weinberg's "pseudoscience," he is a CIVIL ENGINEER. If you're not aware of what this entails, civil engineers study, design, and construct buildings for a living and often have to be demolition experts as an extension. There aren't many people on this campus more qualified to discredit 9/11 conspiracy theorist wackjobs than Alex, and I doubt anyone can do it with a better sense of humor!

    • funny

      Nothing against Alex, but I hardly think a senior in an undergraduate civil engineering program qualifies you for being a definitive source of discrediting the claims.

      also, i highly doubt he is a demolitions expert. it is a ridiculous stretch of logic to say, civil engineers study x,y,z and are often demolition experts, and thus alex is a expert.

      although the only conspiracy theory that i think holds a little bit of weight is the one i mentioned above about wtc7, but in alex's article he mentioned 0 facts or refutations that would lead anybody to think he was some sort of engineering expert to turn to.

      • alexw  

        I'm not an expert structural engineering (or in anything), and I don't think I ever said that I was. I'm a student and I like buildings. I know a bunch about them. That's pretty much all I can say.

        Besides that, I've mentioned before that I really did not want to get into the minute details of the towers' collapses in an Internet humor article. I could, but nobody would want to read that. In addition, there are a million claims from conspiracy theorists and they keep shifting. Any attempt I make to debunk one claim just results in four more springing up. That's just how I wrote this.

        As it stands, there are a few resources that various people have mentioned before.


        I've always found

        http://www.debunking911.com

        to be a pretty thorough site, while

        http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/military_law/1227842.html

        is much more limited in scope but assuredly more professional.

        There are a million more articles from engineers floating around the Internet. One more recent one:

        http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6987965.stm

        talks about a Cambridge engineer testing the notion of the World Trade Center's progressive collapse. He found the real story to be, well, real.

    • there is  

      there is a world of difference between CIVIL ENGINEER and UNDERGRADUATE CIVIL ENGINEERING MAJOR. i'm not discounting that weinberg has more subject matter expertise than the average layman. however, you have to be pretty damn distinguished in your field to bust out "trust me, i know" which at this point, he most certainly is not. (one day, perhaps)

      i also think it's actually pretty cool that he chose to write on such a topic that blends his engineering interests with an apparent interest in writing.

      it just would be nice to see him put that subject matter expertise to work by being a bit more scholarly about it, ie:

      presenting a few links to civil engineering journal articles that lay in places most laymen wouldn't know of that discuss and discount some of the conspiracy theories. maybe most people won't understand most of it, but they can at least read the abstract.

      interviewing a civil engineer who's in agreement with the conspiracy guys and offering an assessment of their claims.

      yes, it's a lot of work. science is a lot of work. pesudoscience is not.

  17. not a skeptic

    "World Trade Center Tower 7 (a 47 story building just north of the Twin Towers) was also demolished by the government, and for no apparent reason."

    It's not incriminating but, owner, Silverstein, won a $861 million insurance claim on WTC 7, so yes, there was some apparent reason if it was a controlled explosion as skeptics claim.

    Also there is recorded evidence of Silverstein telling FDNY to "pull wtc7", supposedly meaning to demolish a building in construction lingo.

    Like... it makes sense that a ton of jet fuel caused the other towers to melt steel and collapse a building. It doesn't really make sense for WTC7 to have come down due to debris and not being hit.

    • actually  

      it makes absolute perfect sense. it is clear you have simply not chosen to research this matter. the popular mechanics guys explained this one back in 2005.

      also, they interviewed guys who actually demolish buildings and they laughed at the idea that "pull it" is real demolition lingo. it isn't. stop repeating BS that has been disproven already!

  18. not a skeptic

    actually i take back what i wrote above about wtc7. i think that one was pretty much explained.

    still. alex is an expert civil engineer now? 3 years of college under your belt doesn't exactly make you an expert.

  19. Skeptic

    Hey Weinberg, thanks for admitting that your article is nothing but a bunch of invective, and that you're not interested in actually discussing any of the issues. What the hell are you doing at Columbia University, anyway?

    #34, ("there is"), it would be nice if Weinberg chose the "blend his engineering interests" with his writing interest. Unfortunately, there isn't a shred of engineering analysis in his screeds.

    To those who say Weinberg is a civil engineer, I'd respond as follows: First, you'd never know it by reading what he wrote. Second, at best he is an engineering student, not a civil engineer.

    Please don't tell me that you people actually go to Columbia. How in hell did you slip through the admissions process? Good God, what a thoroughly unimpressive wordburger this thread is.

  20. Skeptic

    More about Weinberg. He not only admits that he's nothing but a shit-slinger, but he helpfully adds that his only real qualifications are that "I'm a student and I like buildings." Anything else, Alex? Did you also stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night?

    I'm really impressed by your diligence. You've read a magazine article by Popular Mechanics, which in between telling us how to build a nifty bookshelf and what makes a gearshift shift gears, informs us that the government's conspiracy story was correct. And you've Googled some interviews.

    Come on, kid. Believe it or not, your educational institution exists, or at least it once existed, partly to help provide this country's intellectual leadership. Lord help us.

  21. troofer

    So now, the inevitable question: if terrorists didn't cause 9/11, who did? Remember that there are in fact two towers. Two minus one is one; one one - 11; two minus one is one; one one, and there are nine members on Silverstein's board of directors. That's nine-one-one. Nine-eleven. And take 2 - 1 + 9/11 and you get 12, which leads us all to the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. Kyle!

    Twelve contains the numbers one and two, just like the toilet yesterday where somebody went number two instead of number one! And one and two with 911 and you get 914! Drop the 4 and it's 91! Exactly the score Kyle got on his spelling test twelve days after 9/11! Who has the most to gain from 9/11?! Kyle! Who was nowhere to be found the morning the towers fell?! Kyle! Who dropped the deuce in the urinal?! Kyle! But probably the most damning of all is the evidence seen in this photo of Tower 2! When I zoomed in I saw what first appeared to be a blur, but when I computer-enhanced it.. You almost got away with it, you sneaky butt hole.

  22. skeptic

    you'll be surprised to hear that popular science tends to cover all of science---which certainly will explain the simple machines that work behind gear shifts or which may stress the importance of SD's and other measurement quirks when engaging in carpentry.

    Surprisingly, a lot of those seemingly simple and mundane topics are necessary for the more complicated science which they point to in the explanations in that article.

    Then again, its rich for 'skeptic' to attack someone for not positing specific scientific arguments and then trying to use that same reductio ad absurdum card that he cried about before when he/she/it tries to brush all the substantive points in that pop science article by claiming the magazine has no credibility because its had articles on seemingly more 'trivial' topics.

  23. i think

    Its pretty damning that Skeptic won't reveal any arguments of his other than insulting the author of the article. I thought the article was pretty funny and smart even if it wasn't meant to be a point-by-point rebuttal of soom loon's thesis.

  24. Skeptic

    Wow, "skeptic," you can't even pick an original moniker? I gave my argument. If you didn't notice it, then go back and re-read the thread. It's perfectly legitimate to insult someone after presenting the reason for doing so.

    The basis of my insult is that Weinberg based his attack on "conspiracy theorists" entirely on his personal distaste for some people he saw on the street one day. I'm on solid ground with that attack on Weinberg; read his two articles and see if he offered anything other than what I've mentioned.

    troofer, let's hope that, amid all those trendy course offerings at Columbia, someone compels you to take a logic course.

    You don't have to provide an alternative to a hypothesis to destroy it. Imagine if you were wrongly charged with murdering a woman in Arizona in 1922. You're hauled into court, and you say, "For starters, I was born in 1988. Secondly, I have never been west of the Mississippi River."

    At which point the judge said, "If you didn't murder the woman, then who did?"

    What is it with Columbia? Are all of you this dumb, or did I wander into some sort of remedial therapy group here? Sheesh!

    • wirc  

      Alex is an editor of our humor magazine, is involved in improv comedy, and pulls pranks frequently. The very fact that he can get you so worked up is only making this funnier.

      Skeptic, we at Columbia have classrooms and libraries to discuss with each other things of gravity. When someone posts a hilarious screed on a gossip blog, we do not usually consider it to be any more than what it is.

      Now go google yourself onto Gawker or something.

    • hahahah  

      "You don't have to provide an alternative to a hypothesis to destroy it. Imagine if you were wrongly charged with murdering a woman in Arizona in 1922. You're hauled into court, and you say, "For starters, I was born in 1988. Secondly, I have never been west of the Mississippi River.""

      HAHAHAHAH!
      An alibi, by DEFINITION, is an alternative hypothesis. A verified alibi just so happens to be factual.

      (PS: how does that analogy above even help you? By analogy, what you should be doing is saying something like "Impossible. The acceleration due to gravity in Manhattan is 1.5 m/s^2" )

      In order to claim that you are unconvinced by any of the research done by thousands of engineers, you MUST provide a reason. You must provide your own schematics and equations and all of that, or find a real engineer who agrees with you and link his or her paper here. You have done none of that. That's how an argument works, for god's sake. We have a working theory. We present data to back up that working theory. You disagree. You must present data to justify your disagreement with our evidence. Why is our evidence wrong? You refuse to answer this, because our evidence is simply not wrong.

      The bwog is supposed to be humorous and AWeinberg wrote two funny articles, and you blasted him for not writing a scientific paper. Yeah, that was the point: make something funny so that simpletons like yourself could even understand it, but it appears that Mr. Weinberg might've failed there since you clearly do not understand.

  25. Skeptic

    Let's put it this way, kids: I don't think The Onion has anything to fear. And they came from a STATE school. The horror!

    • uhm

      let's put it this way, old man: go back to your mom's basement and pray you won't die of obesity-related complications before your dorito-stained fingers can scribble in the box to vote for ron paul, since only he will believe your whackjob theories and keep those scary "fleet-footed" minorities away from your corpulent form.

      sound good?

    • wirc  

      Haha, the Onion sucks.

      And what's with this obsession with our supposed arrogance and high place? Did Columbia reject you and you're still not over it 15 years later?

  26. Alex Not Weinberg  

    Yeah, maybe it's a really good point that Alex has ONLY completed three years of the civil engineering major at Columbia. Whereas those who felt compelled to point that out have clearly already graduated Doucheface University and gone on to advanced degrees in jerk-off studies.

    Which, of course, qualifies them to compulsively comment on one Bwog thread. (Six responses in 17 hours, Skeptic? Really?)

  27. Skeptic

    uhm, what "whackjob theories" have I propounded? When it comes to the various conspiracy hypotheses surrounding the events of Sept. 11, 2001, I am partially agnostic. I just cast a wider net, in that I'm agnostic when it comes to the U.S. government's version, too.

    Now, some of the more colorful hypotheses leave me cold. I couldn't discern any "pods" underneath aircraft wings. I don't think the aircraft were remote-controlled substitutes, with the actual jets flown into the Bermuda Triangle. I don't think the Pentagon was hit by a missile.

    But I'm not convinced that United Flt. 93 was taken down by its passengers. I'm not really buying the explanations for both hijacked planes being able to strike the towers. I find the WTC-7 collapse suspicious.

    I'm "convinced" of nothing, other than that the attacks occurred, that they killed 3,000 people, that four commercial airplanes were used, and that there weren't drones or missiles or laser guns involved.

    Everything else is pretty much up for grabs. It is you and Weinberg who equate skepticism with a positive belief in an alternative hypothesis. That's not where I'm coming from.

    All I'd like is a genuinely independent and thorough investiation. The 9/11 commission did a half-assed job, and the U.S. media can't be trusted because it's neither free nor independent. Weinberg is a slave to government press releases and whatever magazine articles support his preconceptions.

    I'm not. To me, much of 9/11 remains a mystery, which is amazing given that it happened in front of so many witnesses yet so much of tne background information has remained secret.

  28. Dear Skeptic:  

    Stop posting on the blog of a university you don't attend. You'll seem way less creepy that way. Cheers!

  29. WTC7  

    This is straight from Popular Mechanics' 2005 Article that Debunked all the myths this assclown "Skeptic" is trying to still espouse. Oh, and "Skeptic", a real "Skeptic" demands to be proven wrong with evidence. All you are doing is 1) claiming the work of independent engineers is some sort of propaganda (wtf? what is more independent than a bunch of geeky, middle-aged engineers who write a magazine on mechanics?) 2) not even bothering to read the work 3) not even trying to learn the physics behind this stuff. You're not a skeptic. You're just another clown who doesn't know what he is talking about, and therefore refuses to believe anything that might suggest that oh, maybe 9/11 happened as the terrorists say it did.



    WTC 7 Collapse
    Claim: Seven hours after the two towers fell, the 47-story WTC 7 collapsed. According to 911review.org: "The video clearly shows that it was not a collapse subsequent to a fire, but rather a controlled demolition: amongst the Internet investigators, the jury is in on this one."

    FACT: Many conspiracy theorists point to FEMA's preliminary report, which said there was relatively light damage to WTC 7 prior to its collapse. With the benefit of more time and resources, NIST researchers now support the working hypothesis that WTC 7 was far more compromised by falling debris than the FEMA report indicated. "The most important thing we found was that there was, in fact, physical damage to the south face of building 7," NIST's Sunder tells PM. "On about a third of the face to the center and to the bottom — approximately 10 stories — about 25 percent of the depth of the building was scooped out." NIST also discovered previously undocumented damage to WTC 7's upper stories and its southwest corner.

    NIST investigators believe a combination of intense fire and severe structural damage contributed to the collapse, though assigning the exact proportion requires more research. But NIST's analysis suggests the fall of WTC 7 was an example of "progressive collapse," a process in which the failure of parts of a structure ultimately creates strains that cause the entire building to come down. Videos of the fall of WTC 7 show cracks, or "kinks," in the building's facade just before the two penthouses disappeared into the structure, one after the other. The entire building fell in on itself, with the slumping east side of the structure pulling down the west side in a diagonal collapse.

    According to NIST, there was one primary reason for the building's failure: In an unusual design, the columns near the visible kinks were carrying exceptionally large loads, roughly 2000 sq. ft. of floor area for each floor. "What our preliminary analysis has shown is that if you take out just one column on one of the lower floors," Sunder notes, "it could cause a vertical progression of collapse so that the entire section comes down."

    There are two other possible contributing factors still under investigation: First, trusses on the fifth and seventh floors were designed to transfer loads from one set of columns to another. With columns on the south face apparently damaged, high stresses would likely have been communicated to columns on the building's other faces, thereby exceeding their load-bearing capacities.

    Second, a fifth-floor fire burned for up to 7 hours. "There was no firefighting in WTC 7," Sunder says. Investigators believe the fire was fed by tanks of diesel fuel that many tenants used to run emergency generators. Most tanks throughout the building were fairly small, but a generator on the fifth floor was connected to a large tank in the basement via a pressurized line. Says Sunder: "Our current working hypothesis is that this pressurized line was supplying fuel [to the fire] for a long period of time."

    WTC 7 might have withstood the physical damage it received, or the fire that burned for hours, but those combined factors — along with the building's unusual construction — were enough to set off the chain-reaction collapse.

  30. CUSJ defender  

    speculation on the color of your fingers aside Skeptic, what's with accusing us of ad hominem and reductio ad absurdum then employing both fallacies yourself (feel free to scroll up and reread your "arguments")

    I am getting progressively more curious as to your motivation. If you really are agnostic about all of these things how come a) none of our evidence is helpful and b) you don't move along to a source where the information is more to your liking?

    More importantly, you seem set on letting Alex know he is a waste of space and that Columbia students as a whole that we don't deserve the priveledge. It's amazing how you can get a sense of the student body based on percieved defficiencies revealed in our preference of internet humor. Make fun of us for being out of touch or drunk but what makes you think that you can judge us as students? We don't judge you at your job (unless this is what you do for a living).

    Let's stick the the subject please. Since you really are the only one still arguing your position on this thread, answer WTC7 and the popular mechanics article. Do it as a favor to me ;) , address the article as just as one example of proof in favor of the "accepted conspiracy theory."

  31. first of all  

    yeah sure, this skeptic dude has said some douchey things, however behind all the vitriol there is a point. (regardless of whether you agree with it)

    at first he was starting to look like a tool with the personal attacks and all. but now that there are a bazillion responses that drop to the same level (ie: "go away creepy old man") he's starting to look not so bad.

    if you disagree with what he says, or think he's a douche for the way he says it, then say so. but the minute you launch equally cheesy attacks, you're no less of a purported loser than he is...

    hooray for internet piss fights!

  32. not a civE

    people are only pointing out alex's credentials, bc he's was being heralded as the be all end all on the topic. again, nothing against alex, just clearing things up that people are using to defend the article with.

    Also with WTC7, the explanation by NIST is by no means some sort of silver bullet. it is mentioned as a counter-argument to FEMA's preliminary report, but it's filled with, "working hypothesis", "we believe", "it might have happened like this", the real questions are, was there substantial damage to WTC7, what was the effect of diesel tanks in wtc7, etc.

    The NIST report is full of heresay and studies of photographs. There are photographs disproving their theories, FEMA said their hypothesis was unlikely, and NIST said their own hypothesis was unlikely.

    See:
    "Regarding Weinberg's "pseudoscience," he is a CIVIL ENGINEER. If you're not aware of what this entails, civil engineers study, design, and construct buildings for a living and often have to be demolition experts as an extension. There aren't many people on this campus more qualified to discredit 9/11 conspiracy theorist wackjobs than Alex, and I doubt anyone can do it with a better sense of humor!"

    • you cannot  

      however, claim, that there are photographs that prove that bombs were used. if the building was intentionally brought down there WOULD be evidence and SOMEBODY would've actually reported it. Dylan Avery claiming that there was a "vested interest" in bringing it down does not prove anything. I'd like to point out for good measure that Dylan Avery was rejected from SUNY Purchase College. For Filmmaking. Twice.

  33. rjt  

    You guys if we can just figure out how many years Alex has studied engineering then we'll know whether or not this humor article was funny.

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