Today is of course 9/11 and like previous years, I feel it is appropriate to write a few words on the topic. Each year I do the same. Here is a list of past postings …
- 2019 – Was 9/11 a controlled demolition?
- 2018 – Why do people believe 9/11 conspiracies?
- 2017 – Was 9/11 a controlled demolition?
- 2016 – Is there Scientific Proof that 9/11 was an inside job?
Let’s jump directly in and cut to the chase.
No, it was not a controlled demolition, there really is no convincing evidence for that claim or any of the other related conspiracy claims.
But, but, but …
The assertion that there is no robust credibility to the 9/11 conspiracy claims will of course be met with a passionate rebuttal. It is generally my experience that such rebuttals consist of a lot of hand-waving, and a tedious gish gallop that will simply wear most people down.
Well, imagine engaging with a devout Catholic who has just been on a pilgrimage to Lourdes and advising them that miracles really don’t happen. Picture in your mind the emotions this would invoke. They would strenuously assure you that they really do, and proceed to cite examples.
You need not doubt the depth of the sincerity in play.
In a similar manner, people who believe specific things about 9/11 are deeply hooked emotionally, and have spent a lot of time on it, hence no amount of rational argument will persuade them that it just might not be as they believe it to be. Too much has been invested in the idea and so it becomes hard to consider the reality that they just might be wrong.
The evidence offered has many parallels to the Lourdes experience. There is just enough to convince those that believe, but nothing of any substance that is sufficiently robust enough to persuade a skeptic. Many things tend to find a natural balance like this, and 9/11 is a good example.
The truth is this – the 9/11 Truther movement has failed to establish its claim.
Each and every argument presented as “evidence” has a solid wholly reasonable rebuttal. If you tune in to just one side of the conversation, or simply watch a movie on YouTube, then it is easy to be fooled, or at least confused. Widen your scope to also include the rebuttals, and you quickly discover that the arguments presented rapidly fall apart.
Evidence for 9/11?
It never emerges. Claims are made, but the specifics, the supposed proof, always appears to reside within some blog or YouTube clip, or consists of anecdotal quotes.
Engage to play that game, and what happens?
Nothing solid ever emerges, it is always just over the horizon.
That is perhaps a cue for a rant about biases from somebody who truly believes. The thought is that you need to just look at X, but since you refuse you are biased … except when you do look, you find nothing of any substance … ever.
Yep, guilty as charged. It is not up to me or you to go research a claim, it is up to those making the claim to make a good argument and to then back it up. It should not simply fold like a house of cards when you do look at it a bit more closely. If those that believe can’t present clean clear decisive evidence, then there is really no reason to believe the claim.
Why do conspiracy beliefs take root and flourish within human minds?
University of Miami political scientists Joseph E. Uscinski and Joseph M. Parent have a 2014 book on the topic titled “American Conspiracy Theories“. The basis for the book is the empirical data they gathered …
Joseph E. Uscinski and Joseph M. Parent draw on three sources of original data: 120,000 letters to the editor of the New York Times and Chicago Tribune from between 1890 and 2010; a two-wave survey from before and after the 2012 presidential election; and discussions of conspiracy theories culled from online news sources, blogs, and other Web sites, also from before and after the election. Through these sources, they are able to address crucial questions, such as similarities and differences in the nature of conspiracy theories over time, the role of the Internet and communications technologies in spreading modern conspiracy theories, and whether politics, economics, media, war, or other factors are most important in popularizing conspiratorial beliefs
Of immediate interest is this (from Page 11) …
“inducing anxiety or loss of control triggers respondents to see nonexistent patterns and evoke conspiratorial explanations”
… and also this …
“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.”
Given our current circumstances, a pandemic, job uncertainty, a mortality rate rapidly climbing, wildfires, and a highly contentious election, you will no doubt have observed a huge uptick in conspiracy claims.
Given the date today we can perhaps also anticipate a bit of an uptick in 9/11 truther activity.
When dramatic things happen, many turn to conspiracy thinking because it meets an emotional need, and not because it is actually true. If you care about believing as many true things as possible and rejecting as many false claims as possible, then when it comes to 9/11 truth claims, hit pause until there is sufficient evidence that justifies the claims.
That generally applies to everything.
- 9/11 Conspiracy Theories
- 9/11 Truth movement
- Opinion polls about 9/11 conspiracy theories
- World Trade Center controlled demolition conspiracy theories
Subject matter experts.
Most of the civil engineering community accept that the impacts of jet aircraft at high speeds in combination with subsequent fires, not controlled demolition, led to the collapse of the Twin Towers …
- Bažant, Z.K.P.; Verdure, M. (2007). “Mechanics of Progressive Collapse: Learning from World Trade Center and Building Demolitions” (PDF). Journal of Engineering Mechanics. American Society of Civil Engineers. 133 (3): 308–319. doi:10.1061/(ASCE)0733-9399(2007)133:3(308).
As generally accepted by the community of specialists in structural mechanics and structural engineering (though not by a few outsiders claiming a conspiracy with planted explosives), the failure scenario was as follows: [continues with a four-part scenario of progressive structural failure].
- Bažant, Z.K.P.; Le, J.L.; Greening, F.R.; Benson, D.B. (2008). “What Did and Did Not Cause Collapse of World Trade Center Twin Towers in New York?” (PDF). Journal of Engineering Mechanics. American Society of Civil Engineers. 134 (10): 892. doi:10.1061/(ASCE)0733-9399(2008)134:10(892).
Universally though has the foregoing explanation of collapse been accepted by the communities of structural engineers and structural mechanics researchers, some outside critics have nevertheless exploited various unexplained observations to disseminate allegations of controlled demolition.