Was 9/11 a controlled demolition? 6

The TL;DR; answer is no 9/11 was not the result of a controlled demolition. For a slightly longer explanation read on.

There are numerous YouTube clips and various websites that promote the idea that the collapse of the twin towers was not in any way related to the fully fueled commercial airliners being flown into the towers, but instead the actual collapse was due to a previously planned controlled demolition.

Is there any evidence for this claim?

If you dig into the topic then you will find quite a bit of stuff that does indeed appear to make a convincing case and you will also encounter people who are quite sure it was a controlled demolition. They have no doubts and will cite apparent evidence. The problem is that when you dig, and I mean really dig, then you find that these apparently credible bits of evidence simply do not withstand any reasonable degree of critical analysis.

Outright fraudulent Claims

The passion with which such claims are promoted knows no bounds. An example of a popular fraudulent claim is this, and note that it appears in three different sources all making the same false claim …

No it is not official, and no the ESJ (European Scientific Journal) did not conclude that 9/11 was a controlled demolition, that is a deliberate outright lie. That alone is perhaps all you really need to know about the degree of honesty and integrity in play when faced with such claims.

You can fact check this yourself via snopes.

The root of this is that there was indeed an article published by conspiracy theorists. However it was in reality published in a magazine and not within a scientific journal. I blogged about it in detail at time.

I did receive criticism for that posting from some within the comments section which was rather active. The point of that specific posting was as follows:

  • To point out that those authoring this magazine article were not exactly credible sources. A big deal is made by those promoting the claim that “Scientists have concluded”, and so if you start with a claim that is founded upon reputation, then do not be surprised if that reputation is scrutinised, criticised, and then trashed.
  • My primary goal was actually to make the point that in times of high stress humans can and do sincerely embrace conspiracies to gain a degree of control over something that is traumatic. The pattern-seeking engine between our ears behaves like this.

The ESJ (European Scientific Journal) issued a clear disclaimer making it very clear that they have never published any 9/11 material …

Regarding the recent developments on social media, we would like to inform the public that neither the European Scientific Journal, ESJ, nor the European Scientific Institute, ESI have published content on 9/11 attacks.

The NIST response to the Magazine Article

The Editors of Europhysics News contacted the National Institute of Science and Technology and asked them to comment upon the article in question. The response was as follows …

The NIST WTC investigation team members feel that since our study of the World Trade Center building (WTC 1, 2 and 7) collapses ended in 2008, there has been no new evidence presented that would change our findings and conclusions, and therefore, nothing new that we can contribute to the discussion. NIST firmly stands behind its investigation results, and that the body of evidence still overwhelmingly leads to the following scenarios:

  • The WTC Towers collapsed because aircraft impact damage and debris dislodged fireproofing from critical steel components, jet fuel-initiated fires burned very hot for long duration when fed by debris and office materials, and the heat eventually weakened the exposed steel until it lost integrity and led to a global failure; and
  • WTC 7 collapsed because damage caused by debris from the falling WTC 1 ignited fires on multiple floors, the heat expanded and dislodged a beam connecting a key perimeter column to both a long-span central beam and a critical internal support column, and the column’s failure set off a chain reaction of failures across the building’s steel infrastructure.

Our comprehensive website, http://wtc.nist.gov, covers all aspects of the WTC investigation and provides three sets of “frequently asked questions” (on the overall investigation, the WTC towers and WTC 7) that address—based solely on our findings—many of the claims made by those holding alternative views as to how the three WTC buildings collapsed.

The NIST investigation into the collapses of WTC Buildings 1, 2 and 7 was the most detailed examination of structural failure ever conducted. Based on the recommendations from this investigation, two sets of major and far-reaching building and fire code changes have been adopted by the International Code Council (ICC) into the ICC’s I-Codes (specifically the International Building Code, or IBC, and the International Fire Code, or IFC). The 40 code changes were adopted less than five years from the release of the final report on WTC 1 and 2, and less than two years following the release of the final report on WTC 7. This is an extraordinarily rapid pace in the code making and approval process—a solid affirmation by the ICC that the work done by the NIST WTC investigation team was of the highest quality and critical to ensuring that future buildings—especially tall structures—will be increasingly resistant to fire, more easily evacuated in emergencies, more accessible to first responders when needed, and most importantly, safer overall.

Some specifics of the Controlled Demolition Claims

Claim: Jet fuel cannot melt steel beams

This claim is misleading, as steel beams do to not need to melt completely to be compromised structurally.

Claim: A sprinkler system would have prevented temperatures from rising high enough to cause to cause structural damage.

This claim ignores the fact that a crash from a 767 jet would likely destroy such a system.

Claim: The structural system would have been protected by fireproofing material

similarly, such a system would have been damaged in a 767 crash. However, there is also clear evidence from the fire department that even prior to 9/11 the fireproofing was seriously compromised.

Claim: Puffs of smoke exploding from below the collapsing towers suggests controlled demolition.

This claim does little to address the simpler explanation that air pressure from the collapse of one of the largest buildings ever built would have forced air and debris through windows.

Claim: The buildings fell at a rate possible only by a controlled demolition.

Numerous engineers and scientists have argued that the rate at which the buildings fell is consistent with the manner in which the towers failed, and that the exact time of total collapse is hard to pin down reliably in the first place.

It is at this point that we perhaps enter into the game of whack-a-mole. What comes next is, “Ah yes but … ” and so another claim pops up and for that there is a rebuttal, and then another and another.

Rinse and repeat again and again, and nothing actually changes, and so it is perhaps appropriate to pause and consider what is actually going on here.

Is there something odd about people who believe this stuff?

The short answer is no. Humans are awash with many cognitive biases and so we are all at risk of buying into a belief in something that is not actually true at all.

The observation that many people take this all seriously and truly believe is itself quite interesting. There are however a couple of important points to remember when encountering people who embrace conspiracy ideas …

  • Generally they are quite sincere in their beliefs.
  • The degree of human intelligence plays no part, there is no correlation between the belief and how smart they are. The smarter somebody is, the better they are at dreaming up rationalizations for utterly absurd notions.
  • It is not specific to a particular demography, they are not all white nerdy guys living in their moms basement.
  • It is not about a lack of some information and misinformation. Generally no quantity of rebuttal to the justifications for the conspiracy belief changes the minds true believers.
  • Not everybody who articulates a conspiracy idea is actually buying into the conspiracy belief, instead there are some who are simply carried by the tide of popularity for an idea. If presented with a well-reasoned fact-based verifiable arguments, then they tend to be persuaded. Others however, when faced with such arguments, do tend to demonstrate an immunity to any rebuttal.

It has perhaps always been like this with humans. What is different about 9/11, and other more recent conspiracy ideas, is that since about the mid 2000’s the Internet has acted as an amplifier for such beliefs. That was perhaps well illustrated by the election.

So why do such beliefs take root and flourish within human minds?

University of Miami political scientists Joseph E. Uscinski and Joseph M. Parent looked into what really explains this. They noted that in laboratory experiments …

“researchers have found that inducing anxiety or loss of control triggers respondents to see nonexistent patterns and evoke conspiratorial explanations” and that in the real world “there is evidence that disasters (e.g., earthquakes) and other high-stress situations (e.g., job uncertainty) prompt people to concoct, embrace, and repeat conspiracy theories.”

In other words, when faced with a high-stress event such as 9/11, people embrace beliefs, perhaps religious or perhaps simply a conspiracy, as an attempt to explain it, and so gain some degree of control over the emotional trauma. Because it is embraced at an emotional level, any debunking of the idea at an intellectual level will be ineffective.

I do find it fascinating that the 9/11 belief is akin to many religious beliefs and operate in a similar manner. Take for example the Catholic shrine of Lourdes where various miracles have supposedly occurred. As a skeptic you might think, “Evidence, oh that’s very interesting, let’s take a look then”. So you check and what you discover is that the evidence is not quite as portrayed. Often it is vague, but has been endorsed by various “experts” who assure you of its reliability and yet nothing truly robust or compelling emerges. Instead a balance is struck such that it is just sufficiently compelling enough to convince those that already believe, but is not sufficient to convince any independent skeptical minded person seeking something robust.

It is perhaps part of our humanity that we are like this. The pattern seeking engine between our ears jumps to rapid conclusions as an attempt to explain what we encounter and we grasp that emotionally. Being able to do that gave us as a species a distinct survival advantage, hence that attribute has been naturally selected. If we are really going to address it and overcome it, especially now in an age when the flow of information has been greatly increased, then we need to start thinking things through, not just at an emotional level which often leads to incorrect conclusions, but to also think things through analytically.

You really can’t tell people what is and is not actually true, but becoming conscious that we can all slip is perhaps the beginning of a road that enables us as individuals to seriously question things that we have previously assumed. In other words, don’t make statements, but instead ask questions, not just to others but to ourselves and work through things at an analytical level. We truly do need to equip ourselves to be able to rise to the challenge of this new age of myth-information and work out what is really true.

Questions to Ask yourself?

When faced with specific ideas, and it need not be just 9/11 claims, then here a few questions that might help.

  • Is this really true?
  • What actually convinces me that this is true?
  • What would change my mind about this? [If everything you list for the previous question has a solid rebuttal, and yet you still believe, then you need to seriously work out what is going on and why you actually believe]
  • Am I simply embracing this at an emotional level or do I have good solid robust facts that convince most rational reasonable people?
  • Have I simply invested so much time and effort into this that it would leave me feeling empty if I came to terms with it not being true?
  • What is the full conversation here, am I inside a bubble listening to just one side? What do those that do not agree with this idea actually say, and why do they hold that position?

If indeed you do truly believe and wish to label me a “fucking idiot” for not believing what is apparently obvious to you, then you should seriously pause and ask yourself why I don’t.

The 9/11 Conspiracy

The bottom line is that there was indeed a 9/11 conspiracy involving a group of religious fanatics and the hijacking of commercial airliners. That is well documented. The alternative claim that it was really an inside job and all the result of a controlled demolition is a layer of complexity that simply does not have any credible evidence, but does throw up a lot of other questions such as …

  • Who exactly orchestrated this inside job?
  • Why has nobody, not one individual, ever popped up to explain that they were part of this conspiracy?
  • A controlled demolition involves a considerable effort and would need many experts and thousands of hours of preparation, yet strangely enough nobody working in the WTC noticed anything.

What we do perhaps also learn from other popular conspiracies, for example the JFK assassination, is that once it is rooted in the culture the idea will persist and stick no matter how robustly it is debunked. Many books, YouTube clips, and movies will continue to pop up in the years to come with some new apparent twist, and yet most will know in their heart of hearts that the simplest answer, a group of religious fanatics and a hijacking, is the best explanation.

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6 thoughts on “Was 9/11 a controlled demolition?

  • sdemetri

    Dave, author of this post, references right off the bat three obscure non-science websites, sporting ambiguous titles about a publication last year in a respected European scientific publication, EurophysicsNews, the official publication of the European Physical Society whose membership includes the members of 42 European national physical societies, and then says, “That alone is perhaps all you really need to know about the degree of honesty and integrity in play when faced with such claims.”

    No, Dave, directing people to use that shallow a measure to bolster your biased unscientific, irrational attempts to discredit long running expert criticism of the official explanation for the destruction of the three WTC towers doesn’t do yourself justice for a website that is otherwise an adequate outlet of good Climate Change commentary and progressive scientific topics.

    You sound like the most rabid of AGW deniers, using the same techniques and strategies to undermine concepts you have a personal bias against but apparently lack the knowledge to address directly. Does 9/11 truth offend a political sensibility of yours that concludes no government would or ever has deliberately killed its own citizens to advance a geopolitical strategy? Is that what turns off the rational, objective, empirical part of your thinking?

    Like the Climate-gate gainsayers you attack not the message and content of what the experts who wrote and submitted their article to the European Physical Society were saying, but attacked the messengers themselves, and disparaged the publication where they say it, as if that proves their lack of credibility. You made a strenuous effort to disparage EurophysicsNews as lacking scientific credibility while upholding the scientific credibility of Popular Mechanics’ critique of those experts questioning the official government line.

    Let’s compare some headlines between Europhysics News and Popular Mechanics articles:

    EN: Properties of nuclei probed by laser light; Ion Coulomb crystals: from quantum technology to chemistry close to the absolute zero point; Pattern Formation Induced by Fixed Boundary Condition; Novel plasma jet offshoot phenomenon explains blue atmospheric jets; Fluctuational electrodynamics for nonlinear media.

    PM: Why the C-130 Is Such a Badass Plane; 7 of the World’s Most Crucial Ports; Everything You Want to Know About North Korean Nukes (But Were Afraid to Ask); The 50 Best New Board Games; Russian Bombers Sighted off Alaska for Second Straight Day.

    Holding up a popular non-technical magazine dedicated to influencing populous sentiments to conform to a particular militaristic agenda in the aftermath of the 9/11 events as having more credibility than the one that actually discusses science, well, you made a valiant effort that those of us less awed by pseudo-science saw right through. THAT is why you received so much push back and criticism. Your appeal to the authority of those who held, and presumable still holds, your particular bias without the benefit of valid science backing up their shallow claims mimics another technique climate change deniers rely on.

    You use here and in that last big posting on 9/11 the demonstrably silly idea that the trauma of big events like the 9/11 attacks provokes psychological imbalances in people in response resulting in conspiratorial thinking. You even adapt research opinions to bolster this notion. I see this a sad, desperate even, attempt to discredit how other people think when their thinking differs from your own. There is something decidedly disturbing in attributing this type of reasoning to others who don’t conform to your biases. The Soviets subjected dissidents to psychological purgatory for not buying the Politburos line of thinking. THAT demonstrates the danger of your attempt to discredit experts with whom you disagree.

    Why it is silly ought to be obvious also.

    The events of 16 years ago are long past the initial trauma stage. The ongoing discussions and research by experts in physics, structural and mechanical engineering, architecture availing themselves of a body of evidence publicly available in thousands of pages of NIST empirical analysis, or FEMA, or from other expert sources such as the USGS, the NYC Fire Department, the 9/11 Commission report – publicly available – the tens of thousands of photographs – publicly available – hundreds of hours of video and audio of all aspects of the events from national news broadcasts, official interviews, personal eyewitness recordings and records of experiences – publicly available… all of this archive as a historical database to draw from has been and is an ongoing endeavor as a matter of intellectual inquiry. To hear you speak, you would shut it down. The history is settled. Nothing more to see here, folks, move along. YOU are the fool for thinking and saying so…

    For readers, here are some websites that influenced me when after 3 or 4 years the initial trauma of the 9/11 attacks wore off and I started my own inquiry into the physical and engineering aspects of the WTC destruction that didn’t make sense in the official explanation and narrative of events. I have continues to doubt the official conspiracy theory and find nonsensical, unscientific criticisms of my questions about the official explanation, like these posted by Dave, offensive.

    Dave started this post calling into question the honesty and integrity of people like me, and the many, many experts whose opinions I share, some of whom have long decades of expertise in academia, in government research labs, in basic research and whom are perfectly suited to offer expert opinions. For Dave to call into question their fitness through decrying their “honesty or integrity,” or the soundness of their psychological profiles as a means to discredit what they are conveying in their expert opinions is beneath anyone claiming to uphold scientific values or that they represent rational skepticism.





  • sorgfelt

    I have a degree in physics and know enough to see that those few engineers that have defended the official story have fudged their assumptions, omitted and distorted facts, ignored or outright denied obvious evidence and testimony, and did not follow through on their calculations. There is already one well done study proving that WTC 7 was not felled by building fires.

    • Dave Post author

      Just curious, but …
      – How exactly does this well-done study prove that WTC 7 did not collapse due to the raging fires that had been burning all day?
      – What fact does the study establish to verify this?
      – What about WTC 1 and 2, why the focus on WTC 7?
      – Why exactly would anybody for any reason conspire to orchestrate a controlled demolition of WTC 7 later in the day when WTC 1 and 2 had already collapsed?
      – Given the observation that there was a raging fire burning in WTC7 for most of the day prior to its collapse, how was it possible that any explosives placed for a controlled demolition had not been previously compromised by that fire?
      – Given the observable fact that WTC7 was completely gutted by the fire, then what purpose did a controlled demolition actually serve? The building had already been completely destroyed.

      • sorgfelt

        – What fact does the study establish to verify this?

        It is not just one fact, but several. Go to the link above and view Dr. Hulsey’s presentations. The draft report is due out in October or November 2017, not yet as of this comment.

        – What about WTC 1 and 2, why the focus on WTC 7?

        Some people view WTC 7 as the weak link, because it was not even hit by an aircraft, and too many people don’t know about it, so proving that the WTC 7 collapse was a controlled demolition is the first step to making the whole controlled demolition scenario more publicly known and proving that all three were controlled demolitions. Even beyond these three buildings are the unexplainable facts about WTC 6, which was hollowed out from the inside as seen from overhead photos, and some columns in the WTC 1 or 2 that simply turned to dust in mid-air. These mystify me and I am still looking for an explanation.

        – Why exactly would anybody for any reason conspire to orchestrate a controlled demolition of WTC 7 later in the day when WTC 1 and 2 had already collapsed?

        Any such orchestration had to have been planned well ahead of time. WTC 1 and 2 had symbolic meanings and had to go first. WTC 7 also apparently had some offices that monitored and possibly controlled the collapses of WTC 1 and 2. There are other theories. I don’t really know the answer to that question.

        … more in the next comment (this WordPress page apparently has its limits)

        • Stephen Demetriou

          Dave’s last presumption, WTC 7 was “completely gutted by fire,” claiming this is an observable fact was not by any stretch observed or factual. There were fires observed on particular floors throughout the day but at no time were fires observed in any of the video or photographic record that at all plausibly supports the claim “completely gutted by fire.”

          None of his questions address questions raised by the observed behaviors of the building failures. Making up claims, such as “completely gutted by fire” while ignoring observational facts, the photographic and video record showing otherwise, or physical and measurable facts, free fall acceleration through 8 stories, indicates Dave isn’t prepared to face the empirical evidence and allow the evidence to lead where it obviously leads… fire and gravity alone cannot account for what was observed in any of the towers’ destruction.

      • sorgfelt

        – Given the observation that there was a raging fire burning in WTC7 for most of the day prior to its collapse, how was it possible that any explosives placed for a controlled demolition had not been previously compromised by that fire?

        Currently used explosives are not that easy to set off by fire in the first place. In addition to that, they could have been encased to make them fire-proof.

        – Given the observable fact that WTC7 was completely gutted by the fire, then what purpose did a controlled demolition actually serve? The building had already been completely destroyed.

        I don’t know the answer to that question, except to say that the collapse of WTC 7 had to have been planned well ahead of time. If you look through some of the many videos and testimony, you will find that explosions were set off in the lobby of WTC 7 well ahead of the collapse.