The hoopla from my 911 topic radio shows having just recently died down, I hesitate to make my first post on the topic, but this “experiment” performed by somebody over at Democratic Underground just won’t let me pass by. It’s a pure Stewartesque “moment of zen.” I don’t even quite know what to say about it, especially as the guy seems to be educated. Basically, he’s created a model of the twin towers during 911 using two cynder blocks, some chicken wire, and a kerosene fire. My description doesn’t quite do it justice. I look at it, and I think “it’s got to be satire.”
(sigh). I guess it’s time to let this puppy out of the cage. Here are some links debunking nearly all of your conspiracy theories. All comments are welcome.
Incidently, I think the conspiracy theorists have come up with one very good question – for which I’ve found no answers. I think I’ve come across the rest, and one impresses me. Doesn’t make me think the government bombed its own buildings and faked the crashes, but it’s a good question. I’ll deal with it in a future post.
Meanwhile, the links. Popular Mechanics provides the most famous of the online debunkings. Also well known is the Scientific American piece. There are of course the pages by Chip Berlet at the Public Eye. Berlet is the gentleman who clashed with some of my callers a few months ago in one of my liveliest shows since the David Horowitz visit. These pages contain links to various studies by physics and engineering associations as to the mechanics of the collapses, the transcript of the Democracy Now show in which Berlet debated David Ray Griffin, and other links about conspiracism in general.
Then there is what I call “the lost controversy.” A Skyscraper Safety Campaign made up of safety experts, rescue workers, and others concerned are questioning the adequacy of tube & truss tower construction. Basically, they argue that the perimeter support was inadequate, and that the fact that the angle clips weakened by the heat allowed one floor to collapse onto another causing a pancake effect that brought the whole building down is proof positive that the older full steel skeleton structure is safer and should be reinstated as a matter of code despite the time and expense of construction. They argue that the Empire State Building would never have collapsed (the ESB was actually hit by a smaller jet in 1945 causing a fire but no serious structural damage) and that every building constructed since the 1970s may be a death trap. However, the defenders of the modern approach argue that the ESB would have been knocked over due to its lack of flexibility, and that no building can be expected to survive occurrences so extreme. The controversy is discussed in nice detail in a very balanced New Yorker article by John Seabrook. The safety campaign site contains more interesting articles on topic.
The site also contains a letter-to-the-editor that summarizes the site philosophy nicely:
The Vulnerable WTC, Star-Ledger - Tuesday, June 08, 2004
To The Editor:
One point that doesn't seem to have been discussed at the 9/11 hearings is the World Trade Center's shoddy construction. The structure was essentially supported by an inner core and outside walls, with long trusses connecting the walls with the core. In a conventional design, there would have been numerous steel columns and beams between the outer walls and the core. The heat from the crashed planes melted the steel trusses. The trusses below where the planes hit couldn't withstand the weight of the falling steel and debris and collapsed. The floors fell in a cascading effect.
If the structure had been built with intermediate column support, the buildings wouldn't have collapsed since the structure below where the planes hit wasn't subject to the fires and high temperatures. The Port Authority decided to make the Twin Towers the world's tallest buildings. Because of the huge cost involved, it settled for a cheap design.
Had the WTC been constructed in a conventional way, hundreds of lives would have been saved. It's puzzling that there is no outcry and no investigation of the decisions that led to such poorly constructed buildings.
Samuel Spector Edison
I call it the “lost controversy” because it is inconvenient to the powers-that-be for obvious reasons, and to the 911 conspiracy theorists because it seriously undermines the mythology to which they’ve emotionally invested themselves. The conspiracists ironically become industry apologists – if the designer and contractors who constructed WTC say it was safe, it must have been safe. I don’t know if the tube and truss construction is more dangerous, but I’m not comforted by the dearth of questioning.
Update: Thanx to Fred for pointing out what should have been obvious to me (speaking of moronic posts) – we didn’t have jets in 1945. The plane was a B25.
Second update: Thanx again to Fred for providing a link to an Alternet/In These Times article about the conspiracy movement.