Was 9/11 a controlled demolition?


The events of 9/11 are very well documented, you really do not need me to rehash the details because there are many other highly reliable sources. The basic facts are spelled out on this Wikipedia page titled “September 11 attacks“. It describes the background, the actual attacks, the aftermath, the effects, and also lists the various investigations. As with many dramatic events, there is also a thriving narrative of 9/11 conspiracy theories. Again, this also is all well documented. The Wikipedia page for that is “9/11 conspiracy theories“.

The most popular conspiracy idea is that the twin towers and WTC7 were brought down by a controlled demolition, and that the two fully fuelled commercial aircraft impacting the buildings and setting off raging fires simply does not explain it. Associated with that is the claim that the Pentagon was struck by a missile launched by dark nefarious insider forces.

Is there any truth to these claims?

As is highlighted by the Wikipedia page …

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the technology magazine Popular Mechanics have investigated and rejected the claims made by 9/11 conspiracy theorists.[13][14][15] The 9/11 Commission and 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,[16][17] but some groups disagree with the arguments made by NIST and Popular Mechanics, including Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth.[18][19]

If you are a believer then that’s the cue for playing the card marked “Popular Mechanics is only a magazine, and the NIST study was seriously flawed“. Don’t forget that you need to also disparage the entire 9/11 commission which should be easy, and most of the civil engineering community which is not so easy.

The 9/11 truther players

A Skeptical Inquirer article from 2011 lays out the key 9/11 Truther advocates …

Dylan Avery and Jason Bermas, the creators of the low-budget documentary film Loose Change, did much to give the 9/11 Truth movement significant momentum in 2005 and in following years. The film, which has undergone several revisions, has been shown on many television stations but is primarily an Internet and DVD phenomenon. Its basic claims are that Flight 77 could not have accounted for the damage at the Pentagon, that the Twin Tower fires were insufficient to cause their collapse, and that cell phone calls from the hijacked airplanes would have been impossible at the time (Avery 2009).

David Ray Griffin is a theologian whose voluminous writings on 9/11 are frequently cited by other 9/11 theorists. NASA scientist Ryan Mackey has written a very thorough critique of Griffin’s claims (Mackey 2008).

Once known as Fleischmann and Pons’s competitor for “cold fusion” research in Utah, Steven Jones has written several 9/11 Truth articles. His work with others (including chemist Niels Harrit of Denmark) on detecting nanothermite in WTC dust is frequently cited as “peer-reviewed research” that proves “inside job” claims.

Physics teacher David Chandler has produced several papers and Internet videos contending that high school physics easily shows that the tower collapses could not have happened from gravity alone. He claims this proves that explosives must have been used.

In the past few years, architect Richard Gage’s group, Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth (AE911 Truth), has provided “Truthers” with the ability to claim that thousands of engineering and architecture professionals demand a new investigation into the cause of the attacks. Gage travels the world giving presentations, and his group puts on news conferences and mock debates several times a year …

9/11 Arguments and Rebuttals

If you engage, then what you will discover is not truth, but instead much hand-waving, and a tedious gish gallop that is designed to simply wear the skeptic down.

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 and you quickly discover that the arguments presented rapidly fall apart.

If you really want to get into it all, then you will find a far longer list at the end of this posting.

Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth

This is Richard Gage’s group. They claim considerable support amongst various professionals, but, as explained and referenced on the wikipedia page that specifically covers them, they don’t actually have that …

Their theories lack support among the relevant professional communities.[6][7][8][9]

To make it really easy for you to check those references, here they are …

6 Bažant, Zdeněk P.; Mathieu Verdure (March 2007). “Mechanics of Progressive Collapse: Learning from World Trade Center and Building Demolitions” (PDF). Journal of Engineering Mechanics. 133 (3): 308–319. doi:10.1061/(ASCE)0733-9399(2007)133:3(308). Archived from the original (PDF) on August 9, 2007. Retrieved August 22, 2007. 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 […]

7 ^ Gravois, John (June 23, 2006). “Professors of Paranoia? Academics give a scholarly stamp to 9/11 conspiracy theories”. Chronicle of Higher Education. 52 (42): A10. Archived from the original on December 24, 2014. Retrieved January 24, 2007. Thomas W. Eagar is one scientist who has paid some attention to the demolition hypothesis — albeit grudgingly. A materials engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mr. Eagar wrote one of the early papers on the buildings’ collapses, which later became the basis for a documentary on PBS. That marked him for scrutiny and attack from conspiracy theorists. For a time, he says, he was receiving one or two angry e-mail messages each week, many accusing him of being a government shill. When Mr. Jones’s paper came out, the nasty messages increased to one or two per day.

8 ^ Walch, Tad (2006). “Controversy dogs Y.’s Jones”. Utah news. Deseret News Publishing Company. Archived from the original on March 2, 2007. Retrieved September 9, 2006.

9 ^ Asquith, Christina (September 7, 2006). “Conspiracies continue to abound surrounding 9/11: on the eve of the fifth anniversary, a group of professors say the attacks were an “inside job.“. Diverse Issues in Higher Education: 12. Archived from the original on July 9, 2012. Retrieved October 9, 2008.

What is the Truth?

It is all in so many ways akin to a religious belief. We can make these observations …

  • Those who believe do so sincerely
  • The degree of acceptance amongst the community varies considerably.
  • The diversity of claims is also very wide, there is no prevailing consensus amongst those that believe.
  • It is supposedly fact-based, but as you debunk, you will find the debunked claims rapidly replaced by another and another. Keep going and you will end up with claims that are untestable and unverifiable.

Deep down, under to facade of “facts” is the observation that it meets an emotional need. The belief imparts meaning and also importance to those that believe, and so a rebuttal of facts will not in any way change minds.

I covered this in a posting about one year ago.

The Information Deficit Model summary – The flaw with this form of engagement is the idea that there is just a bit of information missing or a misunderstanding, and so it is easy to assume that by filling that gap all will be sorted. This is not what is going on.

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 looking for patterns …

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.”


This is perhaps the cue for somebody to jump in with a long gish-gallop (“hi Steve”, waves), to explain that I am wrong about this, completely deluded, in denial of “the truth”, etc…

As happens every time, rebuttal of facts results in the usual game of whack-a-mole until I simply grow tired of it, roll my eyes, and move on.

Friendly tip: If you wish to drop a comment they feel free to so so, but try to pick one compelling piece of evidence that actually convinces you, is verifiable via an actual credible reference (hint – links to truther sites don’t persuade), and has no rebuttal.

More Resources To explore

If you truly believe, then it is not simply me you need to persuade. Your task is to address rather a lot of rebuttals.

18 thoughts on “Was 9/11 a controlled demolition?”

  1. Are we allowed to not believe you saw anything or even not believe you were at the location at the time planes were supposed to hit the building?
    Are we allowed to doubt the other people who claimed they saw planes?

    Wow far is the “reasonable doubt” allowed to go in that case?

  2. Flawless!! Loved reading this thread…although I first suspected something was rotten in Denmark within the first week of 9/11 happening due to the multitude of other implausible “coincidences” of that day and therefore needed no convincing at all….this thread and in particular, the calm, clear and measured nature of your replies read as a perfect annihilation of this idiot’s (Dave) limp-wristed attempt to defend the indefensible. Bravo

  3. Flawless!! Loved reading this thread…although I first suspected something was rotten in Denmark within the first week of 9/11 happening due to the multitude of other implausible “coincidences” of that day and therefore needed no convincing at all….this thread and in particular, the calm, clear and measured nature of your replies read as a perfect annihilation of this idiot’s (Dave) limp-wristed attempt to defend the indefensible. Bravo!

    • OK, I’ll bite.

      What actual verifiable “evidence” convinces you that 9/11 was a controlled demolition and that the commercial aircraft played no part?

      In your opinion who did this and why, and what evidence do you have that they were involved?

      Why have there been no whistleblowers revealing the conspiracy?

      Why do the vast majority of architects and engineers reject the conspiracy claim?

      Why have no media outlets who look into this found any credible evidence?

      [UPDATE] Any reply? Nope, there never is. That’s a rather revealing fact.

    • I, along with many others, physically saw them with my own eyes.

      How do you explain that?

      Did somebody also hack my visual cortex?

  4. Dave, Dave, Dave: part of the reason you’re all failing to debunk the Truth is that your side Never has proven Any “official” conspiracy claim or assertion, and NIST has certainly Never subjected their fraudulent tissues to Any peer review process.
    Have you Never seen the video available of the NIST guys Sunder and Gross stuttering and stammering and gagging during their lame responses to Steven Jones and David Chandler’s questions about a couple dodgy NIST claims?
    Unprepared liars was what they conveyed to me as they nervously tried to wriggle out of a couple serious science questions…

    • There is no requirement to debunk something that has never actually been established. Burdon of proof rests with you.

      Simply document your independently verifiable evidence and then engage the structural engineering community. After twenty years of nothing of any substance that does not rapidly fall apart when looked at, I’m not holding my breath.

      It’s not me you need to convince, but rather the entire structural engineering community.

  5. Oh, and if we’re going to “Promot[e] Science and Critical Thinking” at this site, let’s chew on this… What was the total energy content stored within those building’s structural components (yes, you can use calories, or joules, or whatever units)? Now what was the impact and fire energy of each plane? And add to that the kinetic energy of the portion of either tower above where the planes hit. Get honest answers to this simple formula and you’ll have your answer about how neither the plane impacts nor their resultant fires could have collapsed those buildings to the ground.

    • Crunch your numbers, then published it all in a credible peer-reviewed journal.

      Somebody has done that right … you can cite a reference … right?

  6. I’m a forensic structural engineer, and a building collapse expert. I love reading journalists say “most civil/structural engineers agree with the official story”, when in-fact the opposite is quite true. I also find it striking that only “truthers” carry out actual scientific experiments and invite peer review, while the debunkers only pontificate and then avoid peer review. A very odd world we live in now.

  7. Those buildings were so obviously controlled demolition, it’s impossible not to question the motives of those who are so insistent otherwise.

    • Declaring it so … does not make it true
      Quoting folks who are declaring it so … does not make it true.
      Sincerely believing it … does not make it true.
      Clicking ruby slippers together and truly wishing it was so … does not make it true.
      He said/she said anecdotes … does not make it true.

      Citing credible independently verifiable evidence does build a case … do you have any?

  8. Back from my trip to Wisconsin, and have had a chance to look at the Skeptical Inquirer article. I have to say, Dave, what I’ve read so far is lazy work. That you repackage it almost verbatim makes your effort especially lazy.

    And then you say this: “The truth is this – the 9/11 Truther movement has failed to establish its claim.”

    No, the truth is, in the past you’ve asked for evidence FROM NIST on free fall and then when given it, chapter and verse, you say NOTHING to refute or explain it. (Neither does NIST, btw. They don’t draw any conclusion from such a fundamental phenomenon, one way or the other.) This seems a clear indication of your MO: if it doesn’t fit your bias, or is beyond your expertise, you ignore it. You don’t make your claim.

    Another case in point, providing an engineer’s observations, one who was hired by the National Academy of Science to look at the damage, and have his legitimate observations of molten columns completely ignored by you…well, you can roll your eyes and move on if you want but as I’ve said before and say again, the intellectual dishonesty is striking… and lazy. Even more than free fall the fundamental thermodynamics required to generate molten steel is a hard truth requiring hard science to explain. Firefighters and structural engineers are legitimate sources of the very unusual observation of molten steel. You dismiss the observations because to acknowledge them requires thought.

    The free fall “debunking” in Dave Thomas’s article says absolutely nothing about Chandler’s official correction regarding Building 7, which NIST accepted because the precision and accuracy of the criticism is scientifically sound. Thomas doesn’t address Building 7 in free fall. At all. Another hard truth requiring hard science to explain. Thomas dodges the hard work, as do you.

    Thomas’s “debunking” of the rapid disintegration of the Twin Towers through the path of greatest resistance relies on Bazant attempting to convince his readers that the initiation phase is the only necessary thing to understand. His reasoning is faulty, but useful because it leaves the most troubling part completely untouched: how the completely intact lower majority of the building comes apart under the mass of a very small percentage of the total building and mass. That’s not physically possible; its handwaving. Bazant, and you and Thomas, are mistaken to imagine that much smaller mass was sufficient to “pile drive” its way through the intact lower floors, which according to design specs were increasingly more substantial with each lower section of the buildings. The core columns increased in dimension and strength the lower in the building they were. This design allowed the upper floors flexibility to move with wind and weather effects.

    A discussion of the error of Bazant’s theory, taken up by another physicist, Manuel Garcia, who has his Ph.D. in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering from Princeton and works as a physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is laid out by a third physicist, David Griscom who describes himself… “I too hold a Ph.D. (in Physics) from an Ivy League university (Brown) and have worked as a physicist at a national laboratory (33 years at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC).”

    Griscom’s explanation of the physics involved debunks the handwaving Thomas, Bazant, and Garcia employ in service to their political biases here:


    I’ve quoted him before. You ignored that too. You don’t even play whack-a-mole… you simply slink off unable to address the salient points being made with the excuse you’re too disinterested, it’s beneath you, it’s irrelevant… No, you’re lazy, and I suspect not able to.

    Which brings me to another pet peeve I have with your post here… Thomas cites articles made by skeptics of the official conspiracy theory, yet you say those articles aren’t valid to cite. Bullshit. My god, man, if you’re going to try to deconstruct someone’s argument, you have to first understand what that argument is. I think that is the problem you have with this subject. Your bias completely blinds you to the hard science involved, to the engineers and physicists using their expertise to raise legitimate questions and criticisms.

    Bazant’s and other similar theories have been challenged by equally accomplished structural engineers and physicists. Saying their rebuttals cannot be cited because they appear on 9/11 truth sites is you simply deciding beforehand what you want to believe. Because the major peer-reviewed journals are afraid of publishing such challenges lesser minds are easily persuaded the shallow explanations folks like Bazant present must be the only explanation. The implications of free fall acceleration in Building 7, or of molten steel in the rubble pile seen by government engineers, demolition experts, fire and rescue personnel and reported on doesn’t fit your bias and so MUST go unaddressed. That’s not only lazy but unscientific. It’s lazy also to think science can’t be politicized. What’s more, the dismissive attitude you take in these yearly posts is insultingly intellectually dishonest. Re-packaging Thomas’s points makes your yearly “chore” of spreading unscientific bullshit easier, I guess.

    Know, Dave, that the conspiracy theory that has taken hold of your mind is the unscientific one. You’ve been taken in by the disinformation/misinformation that was propagated right from the very start to direct attention away from the painful possibility State Actors likely had a role in orchestrating these events for a political purpose. Al Qaeda certainly didn’t have access to the buildings, but the buildings were vulnerable to clandestine access. What role others played to help Al Qaeda stage a successful, a spectacularly successful, attack is strongly suggested by the fact fires and gravity alone physically could not have caused the damage and manner of destruction seen. The hard science you ignore is itself the evidence additional agency was applied to cause the spectacle.

    When Russia shot down MH17 over Ukraine in July, 2014 Russian operatives immediately started a campaign of disinformation to muddy the waters and deflect blame. Tens of thousands of social media postings were apparently generated by the Internet Research Agency for this purpose. The Bellingcat Podcast Season 1, Episode 2 “A Pack of Lies” describes the effort. The State Actor behind that event was working hard to deflect attention away elsewhere. This is precisely what obfuscation of the hard science regarding the physical aspects of the 9/11 events is meant to do, deflect attention away from the hard facts. Folks like you dishonor the dead by promoting garbage science and ignoring hard, observable evidence.

    Anyway. See ya next year, unless you feel compelled to muster some intellectual stamina and actually start to apply critical thinking toward these issues. You know where to reach me.

    • Steve,

      The fundamental problem is that when we start to drill down into specifics, the “evidence” on offer tends to rapidly crumble.

      Take for example the Molten Steel claim that I note you still promote, amongst many other things. We drilled down into that last January.
      – Your opening evidence consisted of a series of links that claimed “Molten Steel”
      – upon examination it all turned out to be low quality anecdotal quotes

      Upon making that observation you threw your usual “you have deep seated biases” tantrum, and attempted to establish the Molten Steel claim with the quote from Dr. Abolhassan Astaneh-Asl. Yet again, dig a bit and you discover that he has simply been quote-mined, and that he himself is not buying into the idea of a controlled demolition.

      As for the actual molten metal — aluminium which has a far lower melting temp — not steel, turns out to be the actual answer. Your rebuttal … a retreat back to anecdotal claims.

      In other words, when faced with perfectly reasonable explanations and no actual evidence for molten steel, you stick with molten steel.

      The specifics, the supposed proof, always appear 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.

      Pick any bit of the supposed “evidence”, rinse and repeat.

      Nope, not playing anymore.

      (Cue rant about biases, and you only need to just look at X, but you refuse, etc…)

      Yep, guilty as charged. It’s not up to me to go research the claim, it is up to those making the claim to make a good argument, one that does not fold like a house of cards when you look at it a bit more closely.

  9. Some quick thoughts as I wait for my day to begin: David Ray Griffin is a theologian, but not just a theologian. He is a process philosopher in the strain of Alfred Whitehead who was deeply involved in studying the physics and math that inspired Einstein’s relativity work as a contemporary with Einstein. Griffin is a philosopher who for many years has studied the relevance of process philosophy as it relates to and attempts to provide a model of reality that expands on quantum processes as they relate to consciousness, metaphysics, the dynamic nature of reality as quantum mechanistic. To imply he is out of his depth by raising many valid and deeply detailed questions about the events of 9/11 shows a shocking ignorance of the intellect who is raising these questions. Dave, you continue to make these ad hominem and disparaging criticisms of things you don’t even begin to understand. Joining the chorus that criticizes Griffin, for being “a theologian,” implying he is out of his depth no less, proves my point. Here is an explanation of process philosophy from Stanford in which Griffin’s papers are citied in collaboration with many others, contributing to Whitehead’s contribution to our understanding of reality: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/process-philosophy/

    Mentioning the non-reproducible and discredited Fleishman/Pons cold fusion work in association with Steven Jones’s name is an intellectually lazy cheap shot. Without mentioning the much more valid research by Jones that actually produces small amounts of energy from a totally different mechanism of cold fusion is, as I said, intellectually lazy. As an ad hominem meant to discredit Jones, cheap and low…

    Similarly you fail to give Chandler the credit for pointing out to NIST the error they initially included in the NCSTAR report sections regarding Building 7. Chandler showed NIST making a faulty description of the ACTUAL FREE FALL EVENT of Building 7. That event has never been refuted or explained. It is ignored by you and by NIST, though not by many others trying to break through the blockade of empirically proven science thrown up by folks who have a political reason to describe 9/11 as caused by nonsensical, illogical causes, in this case, fire deforming and causing one column to fail resulting in an observable, measurable free fall event, most accurately described as identical to many other controlled demolition events. Got to go, but I hope to consider and reply to more of your “throw the spaghetti on the wall and see what sticks” approach to “debunking” the hard science provided by true scientific skeptics like Griffin, Jones, Chandler. As you remember we’ve talked about the molten metal flowing like lava, and witnesses by several government scientists and researchers. Perhaps I can remind you and readers of this information, also ignored by deniers such as yourself.

    Like the new look of the site, btw. Nice.

  10. Hi Dave. You certainly are consistent with the gobbledygook. I’m off to work on a long drive to Wisconsin. I’ll take some time to comment on your repetitious recitation of ad hominem attacks to discredit credible criticism of Popular Mechanics, NIST conclusions, 9/11 Commission omissions and failures. For now there are some very interesting EYE WITNESS reports from over 100 of these First Responders who were in and around the buildings. Their words hold more weight than the support columns did while Building 7 was free falling…



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