Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Responding To A Classic "Truther" Article

An online article titled "9/11 official story doubts becoming more mainstream" was going around Twitter today. That headline may or may not be correct, although I'm not sure what an "official story" is exactly (I've heard creationists refer to biological evolution as the official story). Despite the neutral headline, it turns out that the article is a straight-up rundown of points in favor of the controlled demolition hypothesis, with no attempt at balance. I tried commenting on the page, but it wouldn't take my comment. (It's a conspiracy to silence me!) So, for anyone interested, here's my point-by-point takedown of the article:
... Jesse Venturas recent appearance on CNNs Piers Morgan. Ventura, an ex-navy SEAL and former governor of Minnesota who hosts a program on TruTV called “Conspiracy Theory”, appeared on Morgans show last week. After discussing 9/11, Morgan tried to dismiss Ventura and said he has “crackpot” ideas. Ventura then asked the audience, “How many people think I make crackpot points?” Only one audience member acknowledged. He then asked, “How many people think I make sensible points?” Almost the entire audience applauded him.
The fact that only one person objected to some well-phrased questions by Jesse Ventura doesn't prove anything. The person who did object, thankfully, was likely educated enough to know that Ventura's questions had rational answers.
Another good example is Colorado PBSs airing of a documentary film that was created by Architects and Engineers for 9/11 truth. It is the first time a major news network has aired anything like it. The documentary, entitled: “9/11 Explosive Evidence - Experts Speak Out”, features dozens of architects and engineers who unequivocally state that the twin towers, and WTC 7 which was not hit by a plane, were brought down by controlled demolition.
The film aired on a single local PBS affiliate, not a "major news network" (WTF?). Each PBS station is free to air whatever programming they like, and PBS nationally is only a collection of stations, not representing any centralized authority. (The Corporation for Public Broadcasting is something else.) Notice how the article attempts to create the impression that the "major news network" somehow endorsed or was involved in making the film — for example, the article's very last sentence:
I simply encourage readers to watch the documentary that was broadcast on PBS, do their own research and draw their own conclusions.
People with legitimate arguments don't need to resort to such manipulative tactics. The fact is, Colorado Public TV is the only station of any kind to give this film airtime. The Movement would like us to believe that this occasion is a big deal. It's really not.
If the official story that fires brought the buildings down is to be believed, then 9/11 was an architectural and engineering disaster that should have led to an urgent and exhaustive inquiry, along with suggestions for improvements and upgrades for other buildings of the same construction.
Here's the really devious stuff. The disaster did lead to an urgent and exhaustive study over several years, with multiple revisions, and involved several local and national engineering and fire-safety organizations, which published their recommendations to prevent similar disasters. The type of intellectual dishonesty in the above quote, aimed at the more naive, is de rigeur for Truth literature. (It's a bit like: Hey, if we are to believe the official story that gasoline is flammable, there should be measures in place to keep cars from just randomly exploding, right? I mean come on!)
According to Victoria Alexander, writing for Digital Journal, three days before the 11th anniversary of the World Trade Center tragedy, the documentary ranked number three among "most watched" documentaries on PBS and number one among “most shared”.
That would be most watched and most shared among videos hosted on the Colorado PBS station's web page — not among "documentaries on PBS." Just a minor subtle difference there. (I'm not so surprised the 9/11 film performed better than Colorado Commitment: Sustainability Through Collaboration.)

Paragraphs 7–9 deal further with the popularity of 9/11 films. While supporting the article's headline, this does nothing to support the veracity of their claims. Most residents of Utah believe that Jesus lives on the planet Kolob; this does not indicate that he actually does live there. Kind of a basic logic thing.
In 2009, a research paper was published by several scientists in The Open Chemical Physics Journal in which traces of nanothermite, a military-grade explosive used to cut steel, were found in four separate samples of dust from the World Trade Center site that were analyzed by scientists. The conclusion :Based on these observations, we conclude that the red layer of the red/gray chips we have discovered in the WTC dust is active, unreacted thermitic material, incorporating nanotechnology, and is a highly energetic pyrotechnic or explosive material.
The Open Chemical Physics Journal is not a peer-reviewed scientific journal, meaning the nanothermite paper did not need to meet scientific standards in order to be published. (More on that in a bit.) This journal charges $800 to publish an article. Legitimate journals do not charge authors, they charge for subscriptions instead; the Open journals are essentially vehicles for self-publishing. Regarding nanothermite, I challenge anyone to find a neutral source confirming that such a substance is used to "cut steel" in a manner that could even potentially be used in a building demolition.

Any iron or sulfur "nanoparticles" in the samples likely come from the structural steel and gypsum wallboard in the towers, which were subjected to the release of gravitational potential energy equivalent to 1/70th of the Hiroshima atomic bomb — one for each tower, directed straight down at the tower's footprint. Which also explains why everything was pulverized to smithereens.

Still, the evidence presented by the lead author of the paper cited, Steven E. Jones, is dubious at best — there was no controlled chain of custody for the dust samples (actually they were sent to him through the mail), and no independent analysis. Further, on a separate occasion Jones also presented physical evidence that Jesus Christ visited America. (That article originally appeared on BYU's website, but was taken down around the time BYU placed Jones on academic leave for his 9/11 "research.") Professionally, Jones was a physicist who researched muon-catalyzed fusion, which makes him an authority on chemically analyzing dust samples about as much as a psychiatrist is qualified to perform cosmetic surgery. He has since retired and currently makes his living in the Truth Movement.
That study, however, never made it out of academic circles and into the mainstream media.
Wrong, it never made it into academic circles. There is a difference. If it had been peer-reviewed and passed scientific muster, the paper would have generated a ton of attention. No such peer-reviewed article has appeared in any legitimate engineering or fire-safety journal, anywhere. Of course, Truthers dismiss this by claiming that the scientific peer-review process has been infiltrated by this conspiracy. The parallels with the manufactured creationism–evolution "debate" are plainly obvious.
Another fact that has never been publicized in mainstream media is the amount of credible people that question the events of 9/11. The corporate media publicizes questions by people such as Rosie ODonnell and Charlie Sheen, but ignore the people listed on Patriots Question 9/11, which include over 3000 professionals from the military, government, academia, engineering, aviation, architecture, etc., that question the official story. A quick browse of the list reveals that these are not a bunch of “crackpots”, but are professionals who have the knowledge and skills in their fields to ask legitimate questions about what really happened on 9/11.
It's wonderful that there are several thousand people who have signed petitions for this cause, some of whom have impressive credentials. But the list of Architects & Engineers for Truth is largely residential and small-office architects, designers, electrical engineers, etc., along with a bunch of "urban activists" and whatnot. Regardless, the existence of such a short list of supposed experts means nothing, considering that almost every structural engineer and architect in the world has not signed the petition! This is a little fallacy called selection bias. (You shouldn't be too surprised to learn that creationists have their own petition of scientist experts, too.)

Interestingly, there exists no petition of demolition professionals who support the demolition hypothesis. I wonder why that might be! On the other hand, we have the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which led the scientific studies of the disaster, and the Structural Engineering division of the American Society of Civil Engineers, which signed off on the findings and recommendations. But I suppose they've been bought out by the conspirators, too. Isn't it funny how none of these hundreds of people, indeed probably thousands, has ever come forward to blow the whistle and name names? Eleven years later and counting?
If most Americans come to believe that the terrorists responsible for the events of 9/11 are the same people that run huge corporations, banks, the U.S. governments and Israels intelligence agencies, then that could change the dynamics of the political scene for years to come.
Now there's some nuance — huge corporations, banks, the CIA, and Mossad are the same people! You know, bad guys, like in cops and robber movies. That makes all of those things so much easier to collectively hate, and the dots so much easier to connect, doesn't it? Well, at least we know who is to blame for all of the world's problems. Oh and by the way, those banker–corporate–CIA–Jews also exploded the World Trade Center with nano paint chips. Wow, they really are bad guys.

The rest of the article deals with a justice on Italy's Supreme Court, and "Dr. Kevin Barrett, a Ph.D. expert on Arabic and Islam cultures." (Truther literature loves to pile on the redundant titles in order to make dubious authorities more impressive, e.g. "the physicist Professor Dr. Steven E. Jones, Ph.D., a scientist.") Not sure what to say about these strange bedfellows' opinions, except, well, the consensus of structural engineers and fire-safety professionals worldwide paints a slightly different picture. This involves not a vast and perfect conspiracy now in its second decade, but instead, planes, fire, and gravity. And "official" though this explanation may be, after 11 years of nonsense and noise, I'm prepared to take their word for it.

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