Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Common sense for conspiracy nuts

Why are so many people prone to believing in conspiracy theories about events like 9/11, the Moon landings, etc? Edward Feser implicates the Enlightenment:

Conspiracy theorists allege that the events of 9/11 are not adequately explained by the "official story" fingering Osama bin Laden and his network as the culprits. What really needs explaining, though, is not 9/11, but the existence of such conspiracy theorists themselves, whose by now well-known speculations about what "really happened" that day are - not to put too fine a point on it - so mind-numbingly stupid that it is mystifying how anyone with a functioning cerebrum could take them seriously even for a moment.

...
A clue to the real attraction of conspiracy theories, I would suggest, lies in the rhetoric of theorists themselves, which is filled with self-congratulatory descriptions of those who accept such theories as "willing to think," "educated," "independent-minded," and so forth, and with invective against the "uninformed" and "unthinking" "sheeple" who "blindly follow authority." The world of the conspiracy theorist is Manichean: either you are intelligent, well-informed, and honest, and therefore question all authority and received opinion; or you accept what popular opinion or an authority says and therefore must be stupid, dishonest, and ignorant. There is no third option.

The Enlightenment Connection

Crude as this dichotomy is, anyone familiar with the intellectual and cultural history of the last several hundred years might hear in it at least an echo of the rhetoric of the Enlightenment, and of much of the philosophical and political thought that has followed in its wake. The core of the Enlightenment narrative - you might call it the "official story" - is that the Western world languished for centuries in a superstitious and authoritarian darkness, in thrall to a corrupt and power-hungry Church which stifled free inquiry. Then came Science, whose brave practitioners "spoke truth to power," liberating us from the dead hand of ecclesiastical authority and exposing the falsity of its outmoded dogmas. Ever since, all has been progress, freedom, smiles and good cheer.

Now this is, as magicians Penn and Teller have elegantly summed up 9/11 conspiracy theories, bullshit, a historical urban legend on par with Washington and the cherry tree. The picture of the Middle Ages accepted by most people, including most "educated" people, is in fact little more than an ideologically driven construct, a holdover from the Reformation and Enlightenment eras and the various anti-Catholic propagandists active therein. (See here for a few examples of widely accepted myths about the Middle Ages, and here and here for a more accurate picture of the medieval world.)

Still, the standard Enlightenment narrative has had a powerful influence on the way modern people understand the relationship between authority, tradition, and common sense on the one hand, and science and rationality on the other. We tend reflexively to assume that the popular or received wisdom, especially if associated with some "official" source or long-standing institution, is always ripe for challenge, and also that if some independent thinker or writer takes an unconventional position, however extreme or counterintuitive, then there simply must be something right in it, or least worth listening to. "Innovator" and "iconoclast" are among our favorite terms of approbation, and "questioning authority" and "thinking outside the box" are applauded even by many self-described conservatives. By contrast, "unoriginal" and "conventional" are treated as if they were synonyms for "unintelligent" and "unthinking."

The picture of science that has gone along with this tends, accordingly, to portray it as in the business of overthrowing long-standing opinions and common sense in general. We used to think the earth was at the center of the solar system, but Copernicus showed that the sun is; Einstein revealed that whether two events are simultaneous is, contrary to common sense, relative to who is observing them; and so forth. The history of science, as popularly understood, is thus a story of daring individuals constantly challenging current orthodoxies and authorities, and constantly being proved right.

Now as the philosopher David Stove has argued, the modern tendency toward hyper-skepticism seems largely to be the result of a massive overgeneralization from a mere handful of cases where common sense turned out to be mistaken. Another philosopher, Michael Levin, has given it a name: the "skim milk" fallacy, the fallacy of assuming, in the words of Gilbert and Sullivan, that "things are seldom what they seem, skim milk masquerades as cream," so that common sense can in general be presumed to be mistaken. To be sure, where phenomena remote from everyday human experience are concerned - the large-scale structure of spacetime, the microscopic realm of molecules, atoms, and so forth - it is perhaps not surprising that human beings should for long periods of time have gotten things wrong. But where everyday matters are concerned - where opinions touch on our basic understanding of human nature and the facts about ordinary social interaction - it is very likely that they would not, in general, get things wrong. Biological and cultural evolution would ensure that serious mistakes concerning such matters would before too long be weeded out. The detailed reasons for this are complex, but when spelled out they provide the basis for a general defense of tradition and common sense of the sort associated with thinkers like Burke and Hayek.

Moreover, the popular image of scientific practice described above simply doesn't correspond to reality. Thomas Kuhn certainly had his deficiencies as a philosopher, but he was a good historian of science, and his famous description of "normal science" - on which ordinary scientific practice is in fact very conservative, with scientists working within and developing a general theoretical picture of the world that they have inherited from their teachers and rarely think to challenge - is surely correct. Indeed, it has to be correct, since it is really just not possible to treat authority, tradition, and common sense as if they were in general and in principle likely to be wrong. For in forming our beliefs we must always start somewhere, and have nowhere else to start except the general picture of the world we have inherited from our parents, society, and people who due to special experience or study have more knowledge of a subject matter than we do. Of course, we can and do often criticize some particular part of this picture, but the very criteria we appeal to in order to do so typically derive from other parts of it. What we cannot coherently do is question the inherited picture as a whole, or regard it as if there were a general presumption against it.

Even very radical shifts in worldview typically presuppose a deep level of continuity between the view that was abandoned and the one that comes to be adopted. Hence the Protestant who converts to Catholicism (or vice versa) does so on the basis of religious premises both traditions have in common. Hence the secularist who rejects Christianity as a whole typically does so on the basis of scientific and moral principles that developed out of the Christian tradition itself. (See here, here, and here.) And hence the conspiracy theorist who claims to believe that the government and the media are in thrall to some purportedly sinister force or other (the military-industrial complex, the Mossad, or whatever) invariably bases his theory precisely on materials drawn from these sources (such as newspaper accounts and television news broadcasts, and even the Warren Commission and 9/11 Commission reports, which JFK assassination buffs and 9/11 fantasists, respectively, comb for evidence to support their case).


After reading through Feser's piece, especially the discussion about common sense, an eerie sense of deja-vu came over me. Then I remembered this deconstruction of Feser that I wrote on the Daily Duck here and here. Now I think it takes some awfully big rosary beads to claim that the Enlightenment is responsible for conspiracy theorizing, especially coming from a defender of the biggest conspiracy theory of all time, religion. But let's just play along for arguments sake and not delve into the many and myriad reasons why we should not wish for a Medieval revival.

Feser's points about the general validity of acceptiong athority over a knee-jerk skepticism are well stated. I think the attitudes ascribed by Feser to the educated conspiracy theory enthusiast are probably pretty accurate. I'd just add to it the ego satisfaction that the theorist gains from being one of the elect, and having possession of secret knowledge. In that sense it is akin to a mystery cult or secret society.

Feser makes sense when he argues against the knee-jerk scepticism and anti-authoritarianism of the theorists. I't s a solid base hit. But he tries to stretch it into a two-bagger by leveraging his position to revive Medieval Catholic scholasticism and philosophical realism grounded on "common sense", and I hereby call him "out".

As I argued in my earlier posts, common sense is a very faulty faculty when applied to subject matters far removed from everyday experience. Feser quite accurately points out that common sense does us no good at the extremes of physical science, the speed of light or the minute scales of quantum phenomenon. And yet the realm of gods and eternity, which lies beyond even these extremes, are expected to be amenable to human common sense? Feser is still stuck on that view, the error of the old philosophers like Plato and Aristotle, that you can think your way to the truth. The West could not have acheived what it has in the area of science and technology had it not abandoned that tradition during the Renaissance and Enlightenment. The fruits of a finely tuned skepticism have been abundant.

This topic is becoming more popular since Pope Benedict XVI gave his Regensburg lecture on September 12th, where he endorsed the Medieval church's tradition of reason over both the Islamic tradition and the modern skeptical tradition resulting from the Enlightenment. I am planning on a post in response to that lecture soon.

71 Comments:

Blogger spider said...

Isn't the 'official' story about the WTC attacks on 9/11 a conspiracy theory? A guy who lives in a cave in Afghanistan and 19 of his friends are able to wreak all kinds of havoc thousands of miles away in America.

Just a lucky coincidence for them that the mightiest nation on earth was unable to detect the plot in time, or the best airforce in the world couldn't intercept them.

And an amazing fluke that the only steel skyscrapers ever to collapse because of fire all happened on the same day.

Somehow former CIA employee Tim Osman (sorry, Osama bin Laden) has been able to elude capture all the years afterward, too.

Are these guys charmed or what?

October 03, 2006 9:20 PM  
Blogger Bret said...

duck wrote: "Feser makes sense when he argues against the knee-jerk scepticism and anti-authoritarianism of the theorists. I't s a solid base hit."

I'm not so sure it's a solid base hit. The way I see it, there's only a slight difference between knee-jerk skepticism and "well-thought out" skepticism. A well-thought out skeptic is probably skeptical of the conspriracy theories as well as somewhat doubting the government's story.

The well-thought out skeptic may have every right to be skeptical. He can see that the world is complex at every level, not just at the extremes of the cosmos and quantum theory, but also at the level of the organization of modern society and the interaction of its members. He realizes that the amount of information available to him is very small and much of that is probably wrong. Every possible conclusion is likely predicated on at least some faulty premises. So there is really no thought and no action that can be taken in which he can have confidence.

But skepticism, whether knee-jerk or well-thought out, is really the Road to Nihilism, to paraphrase Hayek's famous title. There's really no other destination.

That's why every functioning individual has to pick a belief system or a so-called "box" (you have to be inside a box in order to think outside of it).

From my perspective, it looks like nearly every functioning person in the West sits inside a box that almost completely overlaps with the "standard" Christian box (SCB for short). Note that at this point, I consider many of the ideas of the Enlightenment to be part of the SCB.

To be sure, there are many variants on the superempirical portions of the SCB. I also think that the superempirical portions represent only a tiny part of the SCB and one can be a non-believer yet pretty much live in the SCB. Indeed, from your writings I consider the supposed secularists of this blog to live mostly within the SCB. They just choose to rail against the superempirical portion of the SCB. No problem there as long as enough other people buy into that portion as well. The SCB will stay strong enough.

So it's not that appealing to common sense argues against the skepticism of the conspiracy theorists which then argues for middle ages authority. In my view, it's sort of heads in the opposite direction. The impossibility of common sense ever being reliable on its own gives us no choice but to choose some guiding structure, or box, or authority, or whatever you want to call it.

October 03, 2006 10:43 PM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Bad Middle Ages. Bad, bad Middle Ages. Duck, I'm not admitting there is a conspiracy afoot to bring back the Middle Ages, but if I were you, I'd worry there may be secret plans to make sure you, Skipper and Harry are serfs.

Let's not strawman an interesting argument and one well-suited to the DD by railing once more at the Inquisition or whatever. He admits that conspiratorial frames of mind are just an extreme expression of a problem he articulates very well in the last five paragraphs of his article and which Bret has raised. If truth is relative and there is only the material, can the human mind (especially an intelligent, inquiring one) avoid ultimately lurching to some kind of irrational authority in desperation with some pretty scary potential consequences? Nietzsche thought not and I've never heard a convincing argument otherwise.

Conspiracy theorists are easy to dismiss and there are other and better explanations for them than the psychological and intellectual rootlessness spawned by the Enlightenment. Perhaps a better illustration of the point I think he is trying to make is modern scientism and the reactions of both scientists and educated lay people to changes in scientific orthodoxy. One would think common sense would dictate that these folks would respond positively to scientific evidence that climate change isn't as bad as originally feared, but that isn't how they react. Rage and suspicion of conspiracy is how they react. Obviously somebody's sacred space is being invaded.

You sceptical Duckian rationalists are very comfortable taking on the traditional Christian worldview, but this isn't 1918 anymore. How about trying to tackle why postmodern irrationalism has taken hold and is growing fast despite all your efforts over the past two hundred years. Science faculties are shutting down in universities for lack of demand but anything to do with postmodern deconstuction of anything--including science and rationalism--is all the rage. We tried to tell you guys to be careful what you wished for, but would you listen?

October 04, 2006 3:03 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

Bret

I don't think I have a difference with you. And I really don't have a difference, on principle, with what Feser said about the need for a balance between an acceptance of authority seasoned with an ability to invoke skeptical inquiry when the authoritative line doesn't seem to jibe with experience. The only valid use of skepticism is to either strengthen or confirm the existing authoritative account of things or to establish a more reliable authoritative account. It presumes the existence of an authoritative truth.

The interesting question to ask about authority is to what or who the authority derives from. I may agree with the majority of the empirical portion of the SCB, but stating it that way also spills the beans on the source of the athority for all of the truth statements that are contained in the box. The source is empirical knowledge. Worldly experience, not Christian revelation. Empirical knowledge gained by Christians isn't "Christian" knowledge, it is empirical. Most of what Christians take credit for in the SCB is not as a result of Christian revelation or theology, but as a result of the worldly experience of Christian people living their worldly lives.

October 04, 2006 7:42 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

spider

Yes it is a conspiracy, but it is not in the theory stage, but established fact. All the facts support the story that Osama bin Laden and Al Quaeda carried out the 9/11 attacks. None of the contrary theories can account for the established facts in a credible way.

October 04, 2006 7:50 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

Peter,
Did I mention the Inquisition? No, I said lets "not delve into the many and myriad reasons why we should not wish for a Medieval revival."

Feser makes a good general argument about conspiracy theorists, the limits of skepticism and the need for authoritative worldviews. But he is the one that brought up the Medieval period and the Enlightenment, so I am not straw-manning him there.

Why are you social conservatives so defensive about the Medieval world? I thought that it was just a Catholic thing, but you're Protestant, right? As Feser points out, much of the bad rep for the Medieval period was the result of Protestant propaganda from the Reformation period. Yet Feser sees no need to fault Reformation theologians for our modern habit of questioning authority, since you conservative Protestants are making common cause with conservative Catholics now in your struggle against the secular Enlightenment. But respect for authority died when every man became a priest during the Reformation, and that predates the Enlightenment.

So do you really believe this stuff you write? Like "the psychological and intellectual rootlessness spawned by the Enlightenment"? I started reading Richard Weaver's book "Ideas have Consequences" last night, and the whole introduction is just one long rant along the lines of this statement of yours. I don't know where you guys get all this rootlessness stuff. I am not lacking for roots, are you? And how many roots do we really need? We are people, by the way, not trees. And what are we supposed to learn from Medieval life, or Medieval philosophy that will solve this rootlessness problem, or whatever moral miasma it is that you conservative curmudgeons say that we suffer under?

October 04, 2006 9:27 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

spider, he wasn't living in a cave in
September 2001. He was living in a palace.

Your opening line is just about the favorite opening line among the conspiracy zealots, and is a good index of the zealots' grasp of simple facts.

October 04, 2006 9:57 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

One of the charming features of the Age of Faith (the one before the Age of Inquisition) was that neither the uneducated peasants nor their educated priests and bishops ever fell for any conspiracy theories so anti-common sensical as Jews poisoning wells or kidnapping Christian children for sacrifices.

I have to admit that darwinism has a hard time explaining the evolution of academics who praise pig-ignorance. It is almost enough to make me believe that there is a god and that he invented Feser for my amusement. If so, he (god, not Feser) has a mordant sense of humor.

October 04, 2006 11:50 AM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Duck:

Of course I believe it, although we would define it differently. As you suggest, the Enlightenment did not originate science, free inquiry and the challenging of authority. What it originated was the intellectual war on faith and all that flows from that. You can't pin that on us Protestants.

But I do have to go with Harry that the case for blaming conspiracy theories on the Enlightenment is very problematic.

October 04, 2006 1:12 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

I thought Feser had written a pretty solid piece until I came to:

The secularist who chides religious believers for having faith in what the Church teaches will also tell them, in the very next breath and with no sense of irony, to shut up and trust the experts where scientific matters are concerned. That there are philosophers and theologians who can present powerful and sophisticated justifications of religious belief is taken to be no defense of the average believer - he ought to "think for himself," says the secularist. And yet while the average secularist couldn't give you an interesting explanation or defense of quantum mechanics, relativity theory, or evolution if his life depended on it, the fact that there are experts who can do so is taken by him to justify his own faith in their findings.

Strawman, emotive language, elision and obfuscation: four fouls in three sentences. Granted, they are longish sentences, but still.

Is there any secularist guilty as Feser has charged?

Clearly, "... shut up ..." is not aimed at analysis.

No doubt there are philosophers and theologians by the ark load to present all manner of justifications for religious belief. Let's not speak about which belief, from a laundry list of mutually exclusive propositions.

And while the average secularist -- or the average literate religionist, to whom the consequent just as surely applies -- could not give an interesting explanation of any manner of things, it isn't the things in which the secularist, or the average literate religionist has vested authority, but rather the process that led to those things.

As it so happens, I'll bet the average participant here at TDD could provide a reasonably well informed explanation of at least one particular phenomena subject to rational inquiry, as well as the process underlying that explanation. Then, by extension, ascribe authority to any conclusion derived from that process, as a consequence of class membership derived expectation.

Which closes the circle between rational inquiry and philosophers/theologians. I don't mean to imply that they have nothing worthwhile to say (Pope Benedict's notorious recent speech is well worth studying, and led to a great deal of respect -- from a null baseline -- for his intellect), but rather that there is no possibility of deciding, from other than a material perspective, between the mutually exclusive utterances of said sages.

October 04, 2006 2:38 PM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

I don't mean to imply that they have nothing worthwhile to say...

Such as?

October 04, 2006 4:10 PM  
Blogger spider said...

Duck

"Yes it is a conspiracy, but it is not in the theory stage, but established fact. All the facts support the story that Osama bin Laden and Al Quaeda carried out the 9/11 attacks. None of the contrary theories can account for the established facts in a credible way."

I invite you to peruse Physics Professor Steven Jones's paper Why Indeed Did the WTC Buildings Completely Collapse? (available on the Web at the Journal of 9/11 Studies) and continue to argue that the 'official' scenario of the destruction of the World Trade Center adequately explains *all* the facts.

Dr Jones shows that the FEMA, NIST, and 9-11 Comission reports are inadequate even to explain why the buildings suffered such complete and total annihilation. He explores evidence that there was more than jet-liners involved in the disaster.

Several facts left unaccounted for by the official story:

1)Molten metal observed in the wreckage of all three buildings.
2)Evidence of ~1000C temperatures and sulfidation of steel.
3)Near *symmetrical* collapse of WTC7 attributed to *random* fire damage.
4)Unprecedented collapse of modern, steel-reinforced high-rise attributed to fire alone.
5)Unexplained 'sqibs' or jets of smoke and debris preceding collapse.
6)Early drop of North Tower's antenna (on roof above core of building.)
7)Eyewitness accounts of flashes and explosions prior to collapse.
8)Horizontal ejection of steel members for hundreds of feet and debris in collapse of towers.
9)Rapid collapse of buildings at nearly free-fall rates.

If the jets did not bring down the towers, the very foundation official story is in jeopardy. That is why a more complete investigation needs to be done.

I understand that Bin Laden is not listed as wanted by the FBI in connection to the terror attack on 9/11. http://www.fbi.gov/wanted/topten/fugitives/laden.htm

“The reason why 9/11 is not mentioned on Usama Bin Laden's most wanted page is because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11," said Chief of Investigative Publicity for the FBI Rex Tomb last June. If you have better facts than they do, I urge you to share them with the FBI.


Harry

"spider, he wasn't living in a cave in
September 2001. He was living in a palace."

The best information I could find was that he was receiving dialysis at a hospital in Pakistan when New York was attacked. Which palace are you referring to?

"Your opening line is just about the favorite opening line among the conspiracy zealots, and is a good index of the zealots' grasp of simple facts."

The reason it's a good 'opening line' is that it demonstrates the disparity between Al Quaeda (represented as all-powerful) and the United States (apparently unable to locate and capture or kill its 'former' CIA asset.)

Your ad hominem is duly noted, now where is your argument?

October 04, 2006 6:34 PM  
Blogger spider said...

Just an addendum:

Another fact to consider with the 'official' story is that several of the alleged hijackers are alive and well.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/1559151.stm

October 04, 2006 7:05 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

spider, you can see my evidence in the column I wrote in The Maui News on Aug. 22. You can find it at www.mauinews.com, click on 'Local Columns' and call up that date.

The important Jones errors are demolished there by Carroll D. Sanders, a chainsaw artist from Kentucky. Sanders explains how you can disprove Jones's fantasies in your backyard with common kitchen utensils.

(The palace was somewhere in Afghanistan. I forget and also don't care exactly where. Its luxuries were publicized -- the parts we didn't blow up -- after the Americans took it over.

October 04, 2006 7:06 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Spider:

4) Unprecedented exposure of building to 60,000 lbs of Jet-A fuel.

5), 6), 7), 8) Floor falls, volume disappears, but air doesn't. See also:

9) KE = 1/2(MV^2) How much dynamite do you think it would take to equal the kinetic energy released by one floor falling 15 feet (never mind the second, third, etc)?

Popular mechanics put paid to all your objections. Check it out.

October 04, 2006 7:21 PM  
Blogger spider said...

"Hey Skipper said...
Spider:

4) Unprecedented exposure of building to 60,000 lbs of Jet-A fuel."

Such buildings have been hit by jet airliners before, and not one collapsed catastrophically. Engineers who participated in the design of the World Trade Center have stated that the Towers were designed to withstand jetliner collisions.

Leslie Robertson said he "designed it for a (Boeing) 707 to hit it." Statements and documents predating the attack indicate that engineers considered the effects of not only of jetliner impacts, but also of ensuing fires.

In a 1993 interview, John Skilling (head structural engineer for the World Trade Center) stated that the Towers were designed to withstand the impact and fires resulting from the collision of a large jetliner:

"Our analysis indicated the biggest problem would be the fact that all the fuel (from the airplane) would dump into the building. There would be a horrendous fire. A lot of people would be killed, [but] ... The building structure would still be there."

For more on this issue http://911research.wtc7.net/wtc/analysis/design.html

Even if that were granted for the Twin Towers, which jet hit WTC7?

"5), 6), 7), 8) Floor falls, volume disappears, but air doesn't."

Squibs (objection #5) can be observed moving *up* on WTC7 *before* the floors have moved relative to one another in sequence *faster* than the floors could move downward in free-fall.

Regarding the North Tower's antenna (point #6), this is evidence that the core which supported it failed *before* the floors.

Objection #7: failure and collapse of floors doesn't explain reported explosions at the *base* of the South Tower.

Your argument is that *air pressure* disloged and fragmented the steel beams (objection #8) and shot them *horizontally* hundreds of feet?

"See also:
9) KE = 1/2(MV^2) How much dynamite do you think it would take to equal the kinetic energy released by one floor falling 15 feet (never mind the second, third, etc)?"

The floors falling in succession from the top down must still conform to the Laws of Physics. What about the conservation of momentum? The collapsing building isn't falling in a vacuum: as the material falls from above it encounters the mass of the unburned, undamaged floors beneath. That should be expected to slow the descent somewhat.

"Popular mechanics put paid to all your objections. Check it out."

The PM feature addresses three of these facts:

The squibs:

The PM theory that it was merely 'air pressure' does not account for the bottom to top occurence of ejected matter from WTC7.

WTC 7 Collapse:
The article implies that the failure of a single column could bring the whole high-rise down in about six seconds:

"What our preliminary analysis has shown is that if you take out just one column on one of the lower floors, it could cause a vertical progression of collapse so that the entire section comes down."

I do not find this to be a plausable theory. One column takes out the whole building and reduces it to a pile of rubble?

October 04, 2006 9:09 PM  
Blogger spider said...

Got a link to Carroll D Sander's refutation of Dr Jones? Couldn't find it by Google.

Fun column though.

October 04, 2006 9:25 PM  
Blogger Duck said...

Let me get this straight: government agents rigged both towers with explosives.

How did they do this wiithout anyone noticing? Demolition crews need to get access to all the supporting beams in a structure, which means tearing away walls, ceilings and floors to expose the beams. They also weaken the beams in strategic spots by making cuts with blowtorches. They then have to connect all the charges very carefully with det-cord and run the cord out to the location where the detonation will be initiated.

Are you saying that they managed to do this on multiple floors without any of the normal tenants, security guards or maintenance crews noticing that anything was going on?

Given that they were able to place all the charges, replace the wall and ceiling structures, conceal all the detonation cords and clean up after themselves without notice by anyone, how did they manage to coordinate with the hijackers so that the planes would fly into the exact floors which were rigged with the explosives? The collapses initiated at those floors, so that is where the explosions occured, correct?

The most glaring improbability is how the charges survived the crash of the airliners and the ensuing fires. The concussion of the crash would have set off the blasting caps immediately. Blasting caps are very sensitive, they are carried around in foam-lined boxes. If they hadn't they would have torn away the det cord connecting the charges. Had that not happened, the intense heat of the fire would have burned the charges and the det cord. How does an intricate network of explosive charges and det cord, which all needs to work precisely in unison, survive a catastrophic explosion and fire and work perfectly upon the initiation of the detonation by the government operative?

How did they detonate it? Was someone in the building, or did they use radio remote control? What are the chances that their radio receiver would have survived the crash and fire?

A Boeing 707 was 130 ft long and had a maximum takeoff weight of 257,000 lbs. A Boeing 767-200 is 159 feet long and has a maximum takeoff weight of 395,000 lbs. That's more than a 50% increase in size. You can't blame the designer if airplanes get bigger.

October 04, 2006 9:51 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

www.sawit.com, I believe.

Please don't abuse it. He lives way out in the country where he can only get 28K bauds and his page takes a long time to load.

A better way might be for me to forward you his e-mails with photos.

October 04, 2006 10:07 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Spider:

I wasn't aware that such buildings had been hit by airliners full of fuel. Reference, please?

The WTC very easily withstood the airliner's impact; it was the prolonged consequences that did them in. I think you put far too much faith in "considered the effects of ... ensuing fires." As Mr. Eagar's reference noted, one can consider all one wants, but accurately predicting the outcome of an unprecedented/untestable event is nigh on impossible.

WTC7 sustained substantial damage from the WTC collapse, and its design was not tolerant of the damage it sustained, which is both considerable and obvious from pre-collapse photos.

My argument is precisely that air pressure blasted steel beams (broken by collapse forces) and debris hundreds of feet. If you are to argue otherwise, then you will have eliminated your credibility. NB: blast effects are due to air pressure. I assert that a falling floor has far more kinetic energy than even a very large quantity of dynamite.

It seems you need to review the laws of physics before invoking them. Since each floor to collapse took the one below it, the kinetic energy increased as a multiple of the collapsed floors, to the point where the kinetic energy accumulated by the combined mass of just several floors would smash through the next as if it wasn't there.

There is nothing about the WTC collapse that isn't readily contained within the simplest possible explanations. That is fatal enough to conspiratorial fantasies. What is worse, though, is that in order for those fantasies to hold, the conspirators have to be, simultaneously, evil geniuses of the very first order and transparently bumbling fools who haven't watched enough CSI to get to the first ad.

Never mind the troubling little matter that such a conspiracy would take hundreds, if not thousands, to pull off, while still maintaining total secrecy.

On the other hand, the standing explanation required only 20 people to keep quiet.

October 05, 2006 5:27 AM  
Blogger Brit said...

If I wasn't seeing it with my own eyes, I would find it hard to believe that there really are people out there whose heads are so empty they need these insane and hateful conspiracy theories to fill the intellectual void.

(I've decided I'm not interested in being polite about these bloody fools.)

October 05, 2006 7:28 AM  
Blogger spider said...

Nice ad hominem attack, Brit.

Starting in the gutter like that, at least all you can do is improve.

October 05, 2006 12:08 PM  
Blogger spider said...

Duck,

I am not here arguing any particular theory, but merely pointing out the gaping holes in the official conspiracy theory (and it is a theory, not a fact). A real investigation is needed, since the existing story is so full of problems, as scholars like Dr Jones have pointed out.

Where the evidence will lead is another matter, and I won't speculate about it here. Sadly much of the evidence has been obliterated in the obscene haste to sell off the scrap metal from Groud Zero. A buck is a buck.

You continue to blame Bin Laden for the attack, yet the FBI does not. They don't even know who the alleged hijackers were, let alone who sent them. THAT is a conspiracy theory that is ferevently clung to despite the lack of evidence.

October 05, 2006 12:20 PM  
Blogger spider said...

Hey Skippy:

If you have a computer, try Googling 'jet crash highrise.' In fifteen minutes I found several stories, and none involved the absolute annihilation of the target building. Let me know if you can find any that did, I honestly would like to know.

So I find that such crashes are not unprecedented, and that engineers planned for such events. What is unprecedented is the reduction of three high-rises to dust and fragmented beams on the same day, attributed to fires that burned a couple of hours (some buidings have burned for many more hours and survived).

As for the loose material falling on the undamaged parts and reducing them in turn to dust such that the entire sequence happens at nearly free-fall rates is something I find frankly absurd.

All I am suggesting is that a thorough investigation be conducted. Is that so terribly frightening?

October 05, 2006 12:32 PM  
Blogger Duck said...

A thorough investigation was conducted. http://www.9-11commission.gov/

October 05, 2006 1:23 PM  
Blogger spider said...

Now we've reached full circle in the argument: that is the investigation which Americans are finding to be inadequate to explain many pertinent facts.

October 05, 2006 3:33 PM  
Blogger Duck said...

Very few Americans find it inadequate. Spider, you are in a minority. Just take whatever ego satisfaction you can from being one of the elite who know the truth. Your arguments have no power to persuade anyone here.

October 05, 2006 4:44 PM  
Blogger spider said...

You're probably right, anyone who titles their article with an ad hominem attack is most likely beyond the pale of reason.

Stick with your conspiracy theories if it makes you happy.

October 05, 2006 5:37 PM  
Blogger Brit said...

I think to qualify as an 'ad hominem' it must be a personal attack on an individual.

The terms "conspiracy nuts" and "bloody fools" are here used merely as statements of fact about general groups.

October 06, 2006 12:58 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Spider:

I did, and note two very important differences:

1. Those other "highrises" would be scarcely visible against the WTC.

2. All those mishaps were so close to ground level that firefighters were immediately able to pump water directly onto the fires.

What is unprecedented is the reduction of three high-rises to dust and fragmented beams on the same day, attributed to fires that burned a couple of hours (some buidings have burned for many more hours and survived).

Last week an overpass collapsed in Canada.

A section of tunnel roof fell onto a car in the Boston dig.

A skyway in a Kansas City hotel collapsed.

A section of terminal at Charles De Gaulle (sp?) collapsed.

All of them designed by engineers who, presumably, planned strenuously to avoid that outcome.

All without any provocation at all. If your logic has any consistency whatsoever, then you must assume there were conspiracies involved with each of those incidents, and demand full investigations.

To disprove a negative.

As for the loose material falling on the undamaged parts and reducing them in turn to dust such that the entire sequence happens at nearly free-fall rates is something I find frankly absurd.

This is not an ad hominem attack. I find your ignorance of basic physics simply appalling. The multiplying effect of the mass of successive floor failures on kinetic energy is massive, rapid, and inexorable. Far from absurd, the rate of collapse is inevitable.

Also, I highly recommend you delve into civil engineering just enough to learn the difference between dead loads and live loads.

All I am suggesting is that a thorough investigation be conducted. Is that so terribly frightening?

Not frightening, just pointless. What you are asking, as I noted above, is an investigation to disprove a negative. When conspiracy theorists are involved, such a thing is practically impossible.

Remember TWA 800? There have been at least 20 aircraft destroyed due to fuel tank explosions. The NTSB recovered practically every piece of that airplane, and demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt precisely how the center fuel tank on that airplane exploded. It simply isn't possible to investigate that accident any more thoroughly.

Yet there are still conspiracy theorists who insist the Navy shot that plane down.

BTW -- I am a professional pilot. I flew F-111s in the USAF, am a graduate of the USAF Fighter Weapons Instructor Course, and thereby have a pretty good understanding of explosives. In addition, I have a pretty thorough educational background in physics and engineering.

Does that make me an expert? No. But well informed enough to have a pretty good dreck detector.

Here is the nut the conspiracy theorists completely fail to crack:

To make 9/11 happen as it is portrayed would require fewer than 30 people.

To make a simulacrum, that is, to commit an act so as to mimic something that didn't in fact happen -- 9/11 as it is portrayed -- would require a cast of thousands, and absolute perfect execution of the lie that wouldn't be required of an actual event.

To believe that such perfection could be achieved first time, and that so many people could keep a secret so perfectly -- that's absurd.

October 06, 2006 5:44 AM  
Blogger spider said...

"If I wasn't seeing it with my own eyes, I would find it hard to believe that there really are people out there whose heads are so empty they need these insane and hateful conspiracy theories to fill the intellectual void.

(I've decided I'm not interested in being polite about these bloody fools.)"


"I think to qualify as an 'ad hominem' it must be a personal attack on an individual."

Oops! What is the technical name of this fallacy? Poisoning the well?

"The terms "conspiracy nuts" and "bloody fools" are here used merely as statements of fact (LOL!) about general groups."


My bad. I took it these remarks were referring to me. Carry on!

October 06, 2006 6:29 AM  
Blogger spider said...

Hey Skipper:

"1. Those other "highrises" would be scarcely visible against the WTC."

That may be true. I was merely pointing out that jets hitting highrises is *not* unprecedented as you earlier claimed. It is a historical fact, an eventuality that was considered and planned for.

"2. All those mishaps were so close to ground level that firefighters were immediately able to pump water directly onto the fires."

Since the cause of the collapse is alleged to be the fire, it is relevant to note that the WTC Tower fires burned for a *fraction* of the time that many other steel structures have burned, yet in not a single instance have *any* other building suffered such annihilation from fire alone.

The steel components in the WTC, for instance, were certified to ASTM E119. The time
temperature curves for this standard require the samples to be exposed to
temperatures around 2000F for several hours. The rating meant, the structure was still at 100% of it's rated 'strengths' at this level of test.

How hot does the jet fuel burn compared to the rating of the steel? How long did the fires burn?
Time to turn on your dreck detector on the official conspiracy theory.

[Laundry list of other engineering failures unrelated to issue at question.]

"If your logic has any consistency whatsoever, then you must assume there were conspiracies involved with each of those incidents, and demand full investigations."

Let's stick to the case in hand, shall we? Time for red herrings later. I never suggested there were problems with the investigations surrounding those other incidents.

"To disprove a negative."

I don't know what this means in this context.

"This is not an ad hominem attack. I find your ignorance of basic physics simply appalling. The multiplying effect of the mass of successive floor failures on kinetic energy is massive, rapid, and inexorable. Far from absurd, the rate of collapse is inevitable."

How far did the first bit fall? One storey. How much material is supposed in the 'official version' is supposed to have fallen? A floor or two. This is a tiny fraction of the total undamaged mass of the Towers which this small amount of loose material supposedly pulverized to dust at nearly free-fall rates (as if the building weren't even there).

"Also, I highly recommend you delve into civil engineering just enough to learn the difference between dead loads and live loads."

I may do that. But there are plenty of people who *have* done the research. Naturally I am not a master of everything. ;)

"What you are asking, as I noted above, is an investigation to disprove a negative. When conspiracy theorists are involved, such a thing is practically impossible."

What I *am* suggesting is that it *is* possible to prove that a theory about the collapse of WTC Buildings *can* be proved to be false. The 'official version' is questionable. It is not fact, it is supposed to account for facts. But it leaves out many pertinent facts, and is therefore incomplete.

[Mention of another incident unrelated to this argument.]

I recognize that there may be people whose beliefs about events may be mistaken. It is possible that the 'pancake theory' of the WTC annihilation is one of them.

"BTW -- I am a professional pilot. I flew F-111s in the USAF, am a graduate of the USAF Fighter Weapons Instructor Course, and thereby have a pretty good understanding of explosives. In addition, I have a pretty thorough educational background in physics and engineering.

Does that make me an expert? No. But well informed enough to have a pretty good dreck detector."

The presence of molten steel at Ground Zero alone should set you 'dreck detecter' tingling.

At what temperatures does steel melt? How hot does jetliner fuel burn in uncontrolled conditions? Hoe high up would a steel beam have to drop in order to melt? How much rubble must you drop on steel to reduce it to molten slag?

"Here is the nut the conspiracy theorists completely fail to crack:

To make 9/11 happen as it is portrayed would require fewer than 30 people."

Let's just start with why the WTC Buildings totally collapsed. As yet the FBI doesn't know who the alleged hijackers were, let alone who sent them. Bin Laden has not yet been charged as there's apparently no evidence.

You're beleiving a 'conspiracy theory' that even the Feds don't believe. Please consider these facts.

"To make a simulacrum, that is, to commit an act so as to mimic something that didn't in fact happen -- 9/11 as it is portrayed -- would require a cast of thousands, and absolute perfect execution of the lie that wouldn't be required of an actual event.

To believe that such perfection could be achieved first time, and that so many people could keep a secret so perfectly -- that's absurd."

Once we have eliminated the impossible (fire alone reduced WTC buildings to rubble), we can then begin the search for the suspects responsible.

October 06, 2006 8:32 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

Spider,
Nothing you have mentioned casts any doubt on the official "theory". We've knocked down every one of them, but you just refuse to accept common sense. So what am I supposed to call you?

Let me tryt a little harder:

Once we have eliminated the impossible (fire alone reduced WTC buildings to rubble), we can then begin the search for the suspects responsible.

Of course it wasn't fire alone. It was a collision and massive explosion, followed by a fire.

How does the presence of molten steel contradict the story? The temperature of burning jet fuel isn't the upper limit of the temperature that can have occured in localized places in the building. When materials of a given temperature are compressed, the temperature is increased. This is a basic property of matter and energy, it is the principle that makes refrigeration possible. The collision of the plane with the building and resulting explosion of the jet fuel would have created enormous localized pressures that would have easily created temperatures that would melt steel. Even without burning fuel, the kinetic energy of the collision, or the building collapse, can produce extreme temperatures. This is basic stuff.

The problem with debris shooting upward from the point of collapse? As Skipper mentioned, the collapsing building will push air out the side of the building, which will push debris along with it. As high pressure air & debris encounters lower pressure air, it will expand in all directions, including upward. Here's an experiment. Take a tube of toothpaste, take the cap off, lay it on the edge of a table, and then slam your fist down on the tube. Which way will the toothpaste go? Sideways? Gee, that's a shock, since the force of your hand was downward, not sideways. Also, the toothpaste will not only travel in a straight horizontal direction, like a laser beam. Fragments of toothpaste will travel upwards, downwards and to either side of the direction of escape from the tube. Again, this is basic stuff.

If you want to earn any respect for your arguments, you had better do some very basic analysis of them before you spread them around on the internet.

October 06, 2006 11:14 AM  
Blogger spider said...

It's a pity you weren't there to advise the investigating bodies about your 'localized pressure' theory. Ad hoc, to be sure, but at least they could have included the molten steel in their reports.

As it is the official explanation does not account for the established facts in a credible way. Much is left to the speculation of people such as you and me. That is why there is so much doubt about what really happened that terrible day.

Many things might have happened, or could have: the point of the investigation should be what did happen.

October 06, 2006 12:14 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Spider:

When I said jets hitting highrises is unprecedented, I meant exactly what I said. The other incidents to which you refer did not involve buildings of anywhere near the scale, nor the construction of the WTC. Lumping apartment blocks with quarter mile tall skyscrapers verges on disingenuous.

The steel components in the WTC, for instance, were certified to ASTM E119. The time temperature curves for this standard require the samples to be exposed to
temperatures around 2000F for several hours. The rating meant, the structure was still at 100% of it's rated 'strengths' at this level of test.


Not according to what I have read (see Popular Mechanics). Structural steel melts at around 2000 degs F, and starts losing significant strength at 1000 degs.

How far did the first bit fall? One storey.

Remember KE = 1/2 MV^2, with V = approx 16 ft/sec, and M = to the entire mass of the falling floor. Here is where the distinction between live and dead loads is important. For a given amount of mass, live loads (a falling floor is very much 'live') impose much more stress upon the structure than a dead load.

In analyzing the sequence, the entire mass of the WTC is irrelevant -- the floors failed one at a time. The only thing that matters is the sum of live and dead load each floor is designed to withstand. Typically, live loads are a smallish fraction of the dead load (structure, furnishings, utilities). Once an entire floor becomes a live load, the floor beneath will be overwhelmed, particularly if the structure has been weakened to anything like the extent of the failed floor. Because the next floor in the train hasn't completely stopped the first, then the first two floors hit the third at something more than 16 ft/sec, and twice the mass; the first three hit the fourth even faster, with four times the mass (and probably at least 16 times the kinetic energy). And that is true only if the failure happened at the very top floor, which it didn't; when the failure occurred, there was at least 12 floors worth of live load traveling that first sixteen feet.

This is where I find your knowledge of basic physics wholly inadequate to the task.

"To disprove a negative."

I don't know what this means in this context.


What that means is conspiracy theorists demand proof there was no conspiracy. To such people, whose approach to evidence is eerily reminiscent of Intelligent Design/Creationists, once the notion of a conspiracy has been latched upon, no amount of evidence is sufficient to prove a conspiracy didn't exist -- proving the negative. Invariably, the evidence is part of the conspiracy. TWA 800 is a case in point.

The presence of molten steel at Ground Zero alone should set you 'dreck detecter' tingling.

Here is what sets my dreck detector tingling: Analyses that assume the only thing burning was jet fuel. There was lots of stuff burning, some of it, like aluminum, at much higher temperatures than jet fuel.

As yet the FBI doesn't know who the alleged hijackers were, let alone who sent them. Bin Laden has not yet been charged as there's apparently no evidence.

Nonsense. That makes no more sense than saying Hirohito wasn't responsible for Pearl Harbor, because the FBI didn't put him on a most wanted poster. What's more, you are in effect asserting that the same conspiracy that could manage such a masterfully diabolical plan can't get the FBI to alter its most wanted posters.

Once we have eliminated the impossible (fire alone reduced WTC buildings to rubble), we can then begin the search for the suspects responsible.

You haven't eliminated the impossible. You have been massively selective regarding the evidence, made comparisons that don't hold, and buttressed it all with a complete disregard for basic physics and engineering.

In exchange, you are proposing an explanation stacking the impossible upon the pointless, requiring conspirators to be at the same time diabolical geniuses who aren't capable of accounting for the simplest tip-offs, while multiplying the complexity of their nefarious plan far beyond that required.

I'm loath to engage in ad hominem attacks, but accusing fellow Americans of this kind of heinous crime, on "evidence" that makes a mockery of the word, deserves a special place in the Hall of Disdain.

October 06, 2006 12:19 PM  
Blogger spider said...

Duck:

It seems to me that rather than 'knocking down' the objections I've offered to the official theory a few unsubstantiated and ad hoc theories have been advanced. The fact that these arguments must be made in a blog by reference to anectdotes and emails from side-show performers rather than in scientific or engineering papers speaks volumes about the inadequacy of the official reports.

But I think you're onto something with the toothpaste demonstration. It will need a little adjustment to conform to what actually occurred, however.

The relationship of the collapsing mass of rubble onto the undamaged structure beneath is a ratio less than my fist to a tube of toothpaste. 1 or 2 floors compared to one of the Towers is more like a finger.

Now let's look at the distance travelled by this mass. One storey of a hundred-plus would translate in your example into a tiny fraction of an inch. Hold your finger there.

Now what is bringing that weight down? Gravity. Don't push or press your finger, simply let it drop.

What happens to the toothpaste? Does it shoot out of the tube?

If you want your arguments to gain anyone's respect, you should perhaps run them by someone before you trumpet you victory all over the net. You might just end up looking ridiculous.

October 06, 2006 4:56 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Spider:

Now let's look at the distance travelled by this mass. One storey of a hundred-plus would translate in your example into a tiny fraction of an inch. Hold your finger there.

Now what is bringing that weight down? Gravity. Don't push or press your finger, simply let it drop.


It is difficult to fully express just how ignorant that statement is. When the first floor to collapse fell, it eliminated the entire air volume between it and the floor beneath in one second.

Here is how Duck's analogy really works: the toothpaste in the tube represents the air between two floors, and the force upon the toothpaste tube is ratio of the mass of the air to the mass of the floor above it, accelerated by gravity.

Therefore, it isn't your finger pressing upon the toothpaste tube, but something more akin to an anvil.

What happens to the toothpaste? I hurtles out of the tube in all directions.

This is why your arguments, and those of all the other conspiracy enthusiasts earn so much derision: they are a mixture of ignorance and an overwhelming desire to reach a preconceived conclusion.

So instead of doing the obvious, finding out how the combination of burning materials might cause steel to fail, you concoct a wild combination of self-contradicting scenarios.

Your ignorance of basic physics is forgivable in the first instance, but by now your inability to see where your analogy is fatally flawed reeks of willfulness -- you are the one who is looking ridiculous.

BTW -- I have seen the aftermath of an aircraft fire. Anyone who thinks that burning jet fuel can't cause enormous damage to metal structures is hopelessly wrong. I have seen the aftermath of combustor burn throughs. Anyone who thinks jet fuel can't destroy steel is hopelessly wrong.

October 07, 2006 6:02 AM  
Blogger spider said...

Hey Skipper said...

"The other incidents to which you refer did not involve buildings of anywhere near the scale, nor the construction of the WTC. Lumping apartment blocks with quarter mile tall skyscrapers verges on disingenuous."

So the WTC was bigger and stronger. What's your point here?

The temperatures at which structural steel loses a significant amount of its strength may be a moot point as the NIST report shows that the maximum temperature was up to 600C in some isolated spots, and that when the collapse began fires had already cooled considerably - most areas no higher than 150C. The steel supports survived the hottest part of the conflagration. Naturally the steel would regain its strength as it cooled down after the worst was over.

About the initial collapse of WTC1:

If we assume that the upper section of 16 stories falls by gravity a distance of 3.7 meters (assuming every support failed exactly at the same moment or simply disappeared offering no resistance) we can calculate its velocity on impact as 8.52 meters per second, and thus have a kinetic energy (due to its mass {58000 tonnes} and velocity) of 2.105 GJ.

On impact the falling mass would deliver a force which would grow quickly up to the failure load of the impacted columns beneath. The force would also be felt by the columns of the first storey impacted far below the storey that was first impacted.

This is where it is important to consider the building as a whole and not just one storey at a time. Each storey is connected to one another, supports one another, and force applied to one is transmitted to the others.

Now you need to understand the process by which failure occurs under a dynamic buckling load. There are three phases: an elastic phase (the column is deflected by 0.2% of its initial length); a shortening phase (where buckling points form in the steel column, about 3% of its initial length); and the third plastic deformation phase in which the column actually bends in two (failure).

To recap: before the columns can actually fail, they must first be deflected (shortened) by 3% of their original height. In the WTC Towers, that's about 0.111 meters. Allowing a constant speed of 8.5 meters per second, that consumes 0.013 seconds.

As I said the impacted storey is mechanically connected to the rest of the building under it. There would be a propagation wave sent through the standing part [Velocity = Square root ( Bulk modulus / Density ) and for structural steel this is on the order of 4500 meters per second] which travels downward faster than the rate at which gravity pulls the falling mass downward.

So in the fraction of a second it takes the crushing mass to obliterate the first storey it hits, the propagation wave has moved down through the building about sixteen stories (58.7 meters). This is the building absorbing the impact. These columns are in the initial elastic phase, and deflected a fraction of the 0.2% (about 7mm) each proportional to its proximity to the impacted floor. This in itself takes time, during which the propagation wave moves even further down the building allowing more of the mass below to absorb energy from the falling mass above.

The elastic deflection of these lower stories increases the distance through which the falling section has to move in order to load the impacted columns and complete its 3% plastic shortening. Using a constant velocity of 8.5 m/sec gives us a further 0.02 seconds for the propagation wave to move downward, affecting a further 8 more stories. The attached floors would of course move downward with the columns and thus have a velocity and momentum.

Lets look at the energy losses entailed by this process:
A simple conservation of momentum calculation shows us that as momentum is transferred from the impact to the rest of the building, the falling mass is losing momentum (the total sum of momentum remains the same).

Momentum before impact = 16 stories at 8.5 m/sec.

Momentum after impact = 17 stories at (8.5*(16/17)) = 8 m/sec.

OOPS! We forgot that some of the momentum has been absorbed by the stories below that, so:

Momentum after impact = 17 stories at V2 m/sec + 1 storey at 23/24*V2 m/sec + 1 storey at 22/24*V2 m/sec... and so on down to all 24 stories beneath which are gaining momentum at the expense of the falling mass above.

The net result is that V2 (velocity after impact) = 16*8.5/28.5 = 4.8 m/sec.

Note that this reduction of speed of the falling section allows more time for the propagation wave to move downward through the tower columns and allow even more stories to absorb energy.

Now lets look at the Kinetic Energy (KE):

Because of the velocity squared relationship in this calculation, the reduction of KE is even more pronounced:

KE of falling section before impact = 16 floors moving at (8.5 m/sec)

KE of falling section after impact = 17 floors moving at (4.8 m/sec)

Percentage loss of KE = 1 - (17*4.8/(16*8.5)* 100% = 66%.

On impact the falling mass has lost 2/3 of its energy.

ENERGY SUMMARY

Let's quickly run through the numbers:

Energy available:
kinetic energy of falling section 2105MJ
potential energy additional downward movement 95MJ
compression of impacting section 32MJ
compression of impacted section 24MJ
TOTAL ENERGY AVAILABLE 2256MJ

Energy required:
momentum losses 1389MJ
plastic strain in lower impacted storey 244MJ
plastic strain in upper impacted storey 215MJ
elastic strain energy in lower stories 64MJ
elastic strain in upper stories 126MJ
pulverisation of concrete on impacting floor 304MJ
pulverisation of concrete on impacted floor 304MJ
TOTAL ENERGY REQUIRED 2646MJ

MINIMUM ENERGY DEFICIT = -390MJ

(I have taken all of the above figures from work of Gordon Ross, Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineer)

These calculations show that the energy balance of the collapse moves into deficit during the plastic shortening phase of the first impacted columns and thus there would be insufficient energy available from the released potential energy of the upper section to satisfy all of the energy demands of the collision.

"This is where I find your knowledge of basic physics wholly inadequate to the task."

I think in ignoring the mass of the undamaged building beneath the collapse front, you may have yourself erred. Feel free to dispute the conclusions of Gordon Ross, but please show your work.

October 07, 2006 7:09 AM  
Blogger spider said...

As you can see, there are ample reasons to doubt the official version's account of the collapse of the WTC buildings on 9/11.

It comes down to this: it is physically impossible for it to occur as described by these accounts. The fact that it is up to people like you to shore up their version of events to save it is proof positive that the investigations thus far are inadequate.

The murder of these men and women is a serious affair. Their blood cries out for justice. I am not reluctant to pursue the perpetrators of this crime whoever they are.

Your conspiracy theories don't add up, yet you cling to them as if they were gospel truth. That is your prerogative. But that is all they are: theories. And as I have presented for you, they are theories that fly in the face of basic physics, does not account for significant evidence, and is in many instances unsupported by any credible evidence whatsoever.

Save your indignation for yourselves, you'll be needing it.

October 07, 2006 10:25 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

spider, friendly note: you are making a fool of yourself. You don't know anything at all about metallurgy, and it shows.

October 07, 2006 11:13 AM  
Blogger spider said...

Sadly I couldn't find anything by your metallurgy expert Carroll Sanders. Maybe when the carny rolls into town next summer...?

October 07, 2006 12:45 PM  
Blogger spider said...

Time to go after those red herrings!

"All the facts support the story that Osama bin Laden and Al Quaeda carried out the 9/11 attacks. "

Please cite these facts. What are the identities of the hijackers? Is that known for a fact, or merely a guess? You did know that the FBI's original list contained the names of several people known to be alive today, didn't you?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/1559151.stm

How did they escape the crashes? Deboard the plane and walk down the staircases of WTC with their victims?

Since it isn't known for a fact who actually flew those planes, how can we know who else is involved and what their motives were?

What do you make of this statement by the FBI as to why they aren't interested in Bin Laden for 9/11?

“The reason why 9/11 is not mentioned on Usama Bin Laden's most wanted page is because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11," said Chief of Investigative Publicity for the FBI Rex Tomb last June.

No hard evidence? Again, if you have such evidence they'd love to hear from you.

You were aware the Taliban offered up Bin Laden's head on a silver platter if the US could show evidence he was responsible, aren't you? Imagine! He could have been dealt with by now instead of roaming free. Doesn't it make you wonder why we didn't take them up on this offer?

October 07, 2006 1:32 PM  
Blogger spider said...

More little fishies:

"Very few Americans find it [the official conspiracy theory] inadequate. Spider, you are in a minority."

Argumentum ad Populum (popular appeal or appeal to the majority): The fallacy of attempting to win popular assent to a conclusion by arousing the feeling and enthusiasms of the multitude. 'Nuff said?

October 07, 2006 1:38 PM  
Blogger spider said...

It's turning into a regular old Saturday night fish fry!

"Popular mechanics put paid to all your objections. Check it out."

Read Dr Jones's paper. Compare it to the PM piece. Had you done so you'd have noticed very little of what PM discusses has anything to do with the subject. They glancing touch on two of his objections, hardly all.

If you believe I am mistaken in this, please point it out specifically.

October 07, 2006 1:44 PM  
Blogger spider said...

Throw another on the fire...

"Nothing you have mentioned casts any doubt on the official "theory". We've knocked down every one of them, but you just refuse to accept common sense."

IMO 'common sense' would require a theory of the total annihilation of the WTC buildings account for all the known facts. The 9/11 Commission Report and the NIST report do no such thing.

Indeed there's reason to believe that the Laws of Physics render their theories not only improbable, but impossible.

October 07, 2006 1:48 PM  
Blogger spider said...

I couldn't resist this one:

"Here is what sets my dreck detector tingling: Analyses that assume the only thing burning was jet fuel. There was lots of stuff burning, some of it, like aluminum, at much higher temperatures than jet fuel."

Some reports suggest that the aluminum from the aircraft ignited, creating very high temperatures. While it is possible to ignite aluminum under special conditions, such conditions are not commonly attained in a hydrocarbon-based diffuse flame. In addition, the flame would be white hot, like a giant sparkler. There was no evidence of such aluminum ignition [at WTC disaster], which would have been visible even through the dense soot.

My source?

http://www.tms.org/pubs/journals/JOM/0112/Eagar/Eagar-0112.html

You guys have got to get your stories straight.

October 07, 2006 7:28 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Spider:

You guys have got to get your stories straight.

Did you even read the rest of Mr. Eagar's article?

Your response is typical of conspiracy theorists and Intelligent Design/Creationists: the obsessive focus on one item, the complete exclusion of everything contradicting your hypothesis, and the immediate conclusion from ignorance.

I have seen several aircraft accident sites, and am familiar with many more. The burning and melting of aluminum, far from uncommon, is nearly inevitable. I'm not sure how Mr. Eagar concluded an aluminum fire would be visible through dense smoke, but it is an inescapable fact that temperatures sufficient to melt and ignite aluminum are nearly inescapable in an aircraft fire. (Also, as a quibble, Mr. Eagar stated the keel is the only part of the aircraft with enough strength to damage the WTC structure. That is mostly, but not quite correct. The main landing gear would also rip through anything the building had to offer -- and did; they were found blocks away from the WTC.)

As for Gordon Ross, his work is a joke. First of all, he has notably failed to submit it to any peer review publication (just like an ID/Creationist). Secondly, his mistake, and yours, can be reduced to one word:

Bumblebees.

Once upon not too long a time ago, aerodynamic modeling proved bumblebees can't fly.

But they do.

Now at this point there are two alternatives. One is to conclude that the mathematics failed to correctly model reality. The second is to assume there is a giant, invisible, conspiracy keeping bumblebees in the air.

Just as with Mr. Ross. One possibility is that he failed to take into account several, or many things that Mr. Eagar did, meaning your conclusion that the collapse as a consequence of the aircraft impact and ensuing fire was impossible is simply ridiculous, and one that you achieved solely due to your desire that it be true.

The other thing that is absolutely common with conspiracy theorists and ID/Creationists is the step beyond conclusion from ignorance: they multiplication of entities, and the utter disregard of Occam's Razor.

Just so here. WTC conspiracy theorist multiply entities so quickly as to shame rabbits, imbue those entities with a profusion of contradictory abilities, and then to on to completely disregard whether the actions of the purported conspiracy have even a glancing relationship to any possible motive.

No hypothesis in such grotesque violation of Occam's Razor has ever been found to be true. Even if I knew nothing else, I would conclude WTC "truthers" are no more worthy of intellectual respect than ID/Creationists.

Which is to say, none.

Oh, and one other thing. Entering such trivia as mistaken identity regarding several of the hijackers is just irrelevant, a sign, at the very least, of sloppy thinking.

October 08, 2006 8:07 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

Spoder,
I would encourage you to peruse this site, if you haven't already.

http://www.debunking911.com/index.html

I think it covers every point that you've raised, and then some.

Skipper, the comparison of WTC conspiracy theory to ID/Creationism is dead on. These people aren't seacrching for the truth, they are running from it. The truth and their worldview cannot coexist, so it's out with the truth. These people have such an overwhelming emotional need to believe that the Bush administration is the source of all evil that to admit that America really does have external enemies would destroy everything in their worldview that lets them make sense of the world.

October 08, 2006 8:27 AM  
Blogger spider said...

Hey Skipper

"Did you even read the rest of Mr. Eagar's article?"

As a matter of fact, I did. Have you read Dr Jones's paper? Have you found any flaws in Gordon Ross's work?

"Your response is typical of conspiracy theorists and Intelligent Design/Creationists."

You are the conspiracy theorist in this discussion. Where have I said anything about a conspiracy except to show how the conspiracy theory you espouse flies in the face of evidence. We can therefore conclude that your remarks about such persons applies to yourself.

"I have seen several aircraft accident sites, and am familiar with many more. The burning and melting of aluminum, far from uncommon, is nearly inevitable. I'm not sure how Mr. Eagar concluded an aluminum fire would be visible through dense smoke, but it is an inescapable fact that temperatures sufficient to melt and ignite aluminum are nearly inescapable in an aircraft fire. (Also, as a quibble, Mr. Eagar stated the keel is the only part of the aircraft with enough strength to damage the WTC structure. That is mostly, but not quite correct. The main landing gear would also rip through anything the building had to offer -- and did; they were found blocks away from the WTC.)"

The information you present here is another telling argument against the competency and the completeness of the official reports regarding the disaster. In this we are in agreement. Good. We're making progress. If you have problems with Mr Eagar's work, I suggest you contact him. Perhaps Harry can help you there.

"As for Gordon Ross, his work is a joke. First of all, he has notably failed to submit it to any peer review publication (just like an ID/Creationist)."

The Journal of 9/11 Studies is a peer-reviewed, open-access, electronic-only journal. Check it out. And before you go there, The Chronicle of Higher Education, stated that, "Mr. Jones's paper has been peer-reviewed by two physicists and two other scholars for publication in a book."

"Once upon not too long a time ago, aerodynamic modeling proved bumblebees can't fly. But they do."

The thing about science is that if we don't understand something, we don't simply shrug our shoulders and say 'Oh, we'll never figure it out!' We investigate further. That's what this is all about. What exactly happened?

BTW - coninued research has since explained bumblebee flight.

"Now at this point there are two alternatives. One is to conclude that the mathematics failed to correctly model reality. The second is to assume there is a giant, invisible, conspiracy keeping bumblebees in the air."

Again with conspiracy theorists! There is a third road: do more research and solve the mystery scientifically. Apparently you'll never grasp that concept.

"Just as with Mr. Ross. One possibility is that he [Ross] failed to take into account several, or many things that Mr. Eagar did..."

You have already argued that Eagar's work is flawed because he discounts burning aluminum. What else did he leave out? We agree his work is deficient. Does that mean we should just give up?

The popular conspiracy theory which you have invested in does not account for many relevent facts. These deficiencies are left for folks like you to fill in the gaping holes.

This reminds me of the early astronomers trying to save Aristotle's circular orbits by adding more and more epicycles to explain the observations that contradicted the popular concept.

"...meaning your conclusion that the collapse as a consequence of the aircraft impact and ensuing fire was impossible is simply ridiculous, and one that you achieved solely due to your desire that it be true."

I understand what you mean, I'm simply waiting for a valid argument why you think the flawed and inadequate work of conspiracy theorists such as Mr Eagar is preferable to the work of scholars such as Dr Jones and Gordon Ross. You have shown no similar fatal flaws in their work.

"Oh, and one other thing. Entering such trivia as mistaken identity regarding several of the hijackers is just irrelevant, a sign, at the very least, of sloppy thinking."

Sloppy thinking on the part of the FBI, or on your own part for continuing to put your faith in their baseless accusations? They are the ones who mistakenly identified the hijackers.

The result is hardly trivial. We have gone to war based on this FBI blunder. You must put a pretty low value on human life to call that trivial.

October 08, 2006 7:39 PM  
Blogger spider said...

Duck:

Claiming to know something about conspiracy theorists' psycholgy is no substitute for meeting an argument.

A Circumstantial ad Hominem is a fallacy in which one attempts to attack a claim by asserting that the person making the claim is making it simply out of self interest. In some cases, this fallacy involves substituting an attack on a person's circumstances (such as the person's religion, political affiliation, ethnic background, etc.).

It's little more than a passive-aggressive ad hominem.

I do look at the site from time to time, as well as the many rebuttals. Don't put all your eggs in one basket.

October 08, 2006 7:46 PM  
Blogger Duck said...

There's nothing passive about it, it is full on agressively ad-hominem. I've exhausted any attempt at argumentation with you, because you have no interest in engaging in an argument. You just want to spread a pack of lies. You've allowed yourself to be taken in by this vainglorious hack Dr Jones, who has no training or expertise in civil engineering and has been denounced by the engineering staff at his own university, and you want the rest of the world to take you seriously and submit to an assinine investigation just to get yourselves in the limelight.

Calling you a nut is an understatement, because that term suggests that you're just a harmless eccentric. But what you are doing is not harmless, it is disgraceful. You are making false accusations about our president, his staff and the members of our military with no evidence. Your group of "truth seekers" has no shame about carelessly throwing about accusations of the most despicable behavior on the flimsiest of premises, like the owner of the WTC properties, who you say had a motive for destroying the towers, because of asbestos problems.

If your group had its way you would cripple our government by your witch hunt show trials, just to satisfy your paranoid fantasies. You obviously don't know about any of the topics that you're discussing here, you're just accepting the word of a group of crackpots who have earned no respect from the professional scientific or engineering community. Don't expect to earn any respect from us.

As Skipper mentioned, he served in the Air Force. I served in the Marines. I'm pretty tired of you left-wing hysteria mongers painting military people as soulless automatons that would fire missiles at civilian aircraft or consent to some heinous plot to kill American citizens just because some operative from the Pentagon gave the order. Your stupid little witch hunt is an insult to every American who has served this country. You can visit this site all you want. This is the last time I'm going to answer you.

October 08, 2006 8:58 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

I am uninterested in spider's trivial pursuit, except insofar as he and Harry Davisson, the conspiracy theorist who insisted that I review the objections, both say that they are NOT accusing the government of being behind the attack.

This is dishonest. I shouldn't have to explain why.

Of more general interest is the apparently universal predilection among a segment of (any?) population to dream up impossibly complex and cumbersome conspiracies.

This has been going on for centuries. In the west, Freemasonry, Illuminati, Rosicrucians, the CFR etc. I don't know too much about similar attitudes in nonwestern societies, but they seem to be common among Muslims.

What psychic deficits are these impossible dreams filling up?

October 09, 2006 12:04 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Spider:

The information you present here is another telling argument against the competency and the completeness of the official reports regarding the disaster. In this we are in agreement.

No. We. Are. Not.

My points about Mr. Eagar's article were mere quibbles and a question. Besides that, if I am right about my quibbles, they only further substantiate Mr. Eagar's conclusion.

I do have one other quibble about Mr. Eagar's paper, but didn't include it in the interest of space: oxygen generators. The airplane had some two hundred of them, plus probably six walkaround oxygen bottles, plus two, much larger, crew oxygen bottles. Of course, not only does Mr. Eagar's paper stand perfectly well without the addition of oxygen to the fire, including all that oxygen into the conflagration serves only to make his conclusion more credible, and yours less.


I did in fact read Mr. Ross's paper. It manages to be both superficial and laughably at odds with indisputable reality.

Superficial: no consideration of live vs. dead load; complete disregard (or ignorance) of transverse loads vs. axial loads; utterly no mention of attachment points; scarcely a word about the WTC's structure; the continued citation of 600 degrees, as if the only thing on fire was Jet-A. In a word: bumblebees.

Flat wrong: assuming the structural damage was limited to merely one floor, instead of at least three. Re-run even his superficial analysis with sixteen floors worth of mass falling nearly unimpeded for fifteen meters, and get back to me.

The Journal of 9/11 Studies is not a peer review publication, it is an echo chamber. When Mr. Ross submits his "analysis" to an academic, peer review journal in existence before 9/11, then it has been peer reviewed. Until then (and anonymous reviewers of unknown expertise for a yet to be published book doesn't even begin to count) your assertion that Mr. Ross has been peer reviewed is either profoundly ignorant of the peer review process, or, in the absence of ignorance, equally dishonest. BTW -- here is yet another striking parallel with ID/Creationism.

You are the conspiracy theorist in this discussion. Where have I said anything about a conspiracy except to show how the conspiracy theory you espouse flies in the face of evidence. We can therefore conclude that your remarks about such persons applies to yourself.

You started this discussion, and you don't even know what it is about. Let me refresh you: it is fundamentally about whether the impact of a nearly fully fueled airliner traveling at Vmo (compared to your earlier examples, which were flying at, or close to, Vmc. The difference in kinetic energy between max and min operating speeds is at least a factor of four) and the ensuing effects is sufficient to cause the eventual collapse of a WTC tower.

I assert that the more thorough the analysis, the more inescapable that conclusion becomes, and that your assertion of "impossible" is risible, making everything deriving from your assertion equally risible.

Occam's Razor cares not about my politics or yours, and it is relentless. All the "truther's" conspiracy theories require a wild proliferation of entities. A conspiracy limited to 20 people is well within the realm of plausibility and history; that requiring thousands is not.

Sloppy thinking on the part of the FBI, or on your own part for continuing to put your faith in their baseless accusations? They are the ones who mistakenly identified the hijackers.

No, astonishingly sloppy, and dishonest, thinking on your part. First, it is completely irrelevant to the issue at hand; the identity of the hijackers has no bearing on whether the aircraft could have caused the WTC to collapse. Second, that the FBI mis-identified several hijackers does not allow you to conclude that the three actual persons were anything other than identical in nature to the correctly identified 16: Islamofascists with the means, motive, and opportunity to do precisely what they are charged with doing.


I have spent a fair amount of time analyzing ID/Creationist arguments. I had thought they pretty much plumbed the depths of ignorance, illogic, and outright intellectual dishonesty.

I was wrong. Through your instigation, I have spent no small amount of time looking at "truther's" claims (in addition to a thoroughly appalling hour viewing a C-SPAN broadcast of a "truther's" convention). I would have thought it impossible, but the "truther's" have plunged to even more stygian depths.

But where the ID/Creationists are mostly comical, the "truther's," based upon nothing more than leaps from sheer ignorance, while wholly disregarding the self-contradicting and self-defeating requirements of their "theories" (of which there must be hundreds) are directly attacking our country and some of its most trusted institutions.

There is absolutely nothing comical about that.

October 09, 2006 5:06 AM  
Blogger spider said...

Goodbye Duck:

"I've exhausted any attempt at argumentation with you, because you have no interest in engaging in an argument."

Here are you contributions to the argument, minus the invective and red herrings:

>>It is an established fact that Osama bin Laden and Al Quaeda carried out the 9/11 attacks. All the facts support the story. It is therefore not a theory.

My response: “The reason why 9/11 is not mentioned on Usama Bin Laden's most wanted page is because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11," said Chief of Investigative Publicity for the FBI Rex Tomb last June.

>>In response to my pointing out that the WTC was designed to withstand the impact of a Boeing 707, you countered that a Boeing 707 was 130 ft long and had a maximum takeoff weight of 257,000 lbs. A Boeing 767-200 is 159 feet long and has a maximum takeoff weight of 395,000 lbs. That's more than a 50% increase in size. You can't blame the designer if airplanes get bigger.

I apologise that I never addressed this issue. I will do so here:

The maximum takeoff weight for a Boeing 707-320B is 336,000 pounds.
The maximum takeoff weight for a Boeing 767-200ER is 395,000 pounds.
The wingspan of a Boeing 707 is 146 feet.
The wingspan of a Boeing 767 is 156 feet.
The length of a Boeing 707 is 153 feet.
The length of a Boeing 767 is 159 feet.
The Boeing 707 could carry 23,000 gallons of fuel.
The Boeing 767 could carry 23,980 gallons of fuel.
The cruise speed of a Boeing 707 is 607 mph = 890 ft/s,
The cruise speed of a Boeing 767 is 530 mph = 777 ft/s.

The Boeing 707 and 767 are very similar aircraft, with the main differences being that the 767 is slightly heavier and the 707 is faster.

Since the Boeing 707 had a higher thrust to weight ratio, it would be traveling faster on take-off and on landing.

The thrust to weight ratio for a Boeing 707 is 4 x 18,000/336,000 = 0.214286.
The thrust to weight ratio for a Boeing 767 is 2 x 31,500/395,000 = 0.159494.

In all the likely variations of an accidental impact with the WTC, the Boeing 707 would be traveling faster. In terms of impact damage, this higher speed would more than compensate for the slightly lower weight of the Boeing 707.

The speed of impact of AA Flight 11 was 470 mph = 689 ft/s.
The speed of impact of UA Flight 175 was 590 mph = 865 ft/s.

The kinetic energy released by the impact of AA Flight 11 was
= 0.5 x 395,000 x (689)^2/32.174
= 2.914 billion ft lbs force (3,950,950 Kilojoules).

This is well within limits that the towers were built to survive. So why did the North tower fall?

The kinetic energy released by the impact of UA Flight 175 was
= 0.5 x 395,000 x (865)^2/32.174
= 4.593 billion ft lbs force (6,227,270 Kilojoules).

This is within 10 percent of the energy released by the impact of a Boeing 707 at cruise speed. So, it is also a surprise that the 767 impact caused the South tower to fall.

In conclusion we can say that if the twin towers were designed to survive the impact of a Boeing 707, then they were necessarily designed to survive the impact of a Boeing 767.

>>You maintain that a thorough investigation was conducted, thus we can learn nothing from further study. You refer me to http://www.9-11commission.gov/

My response: Having presented clearly and calmly some of the significant facts related 9/11 which are ignored or inadequately explained in the Official Conspiracy Theory, and having seen nothing but a wild variety of self-contradictory and ad hoc arguments in reply, I can only maintain my position.

For more on the problems with the 9/11 Commission see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/9/11_Commission#Criticisms

>>The collision of the plane with the building and resulting explosion of the jet fuel would have created enormous localized pressures that would have easily created temperatures that would melt steel.

My response: This is a nice new theory, but it contradicts the Official Conspiracy Theory:

"The fire is the most misunderstood part of the WTC collapse. Even today, the media report (and many scientists believe) that the steel melted. It is argued that the jet fuel burns very hot, especially with so much fuel present. This is not true...The temperature of the fire at the WTC was not unusual, and it was most definitely not capable of melting steel." - Eagar & Musso

>>In response to my query about steel members shooting explosively outward, you put forward your toothpaste tube analogy. "The collapsing building will push air out the side of the building, which will push debris along with it. As high pressure air & debris encounters lower pressure air, it will expand in all directions, including upward."

My response: I intuitively doubted air pressure could move steel like that. The first collapsing floor fell the 3.7 meter distance in 0.87 seconds, thus air from the center of the collapsing floor traversed a horizontal distance of about 16 meters in that time. That comes to an average expulsion velocity of 41 mph. Is that gust of wind enough to pick up and carry a steel beam?

>>From an email a certain Carroll Sanders has claimed that he can get aluminum to burn without even an initial flame. All he needs is sound [rock music turned up loud].

My response: The official version discounts burning aluminum: "While it is possible to ignite aluminum under special conditions, such conditions are not commonly attained in a hydrocarbon-based diffuse flame. In addition, the flame would be white hot, like a giant sparkler. There was no evidence of such aluminum ignition [at WTC disaster.]" Eagar & Musso

Far from 'not engaging' your arguments, I have shown them again and again to be irrelevant at best, contradictory to the Official Conspiracy Theory you claim to be The Last Word on the subject, and sometimes just plain bizarre and absurd. But the bulk of your argument doesn't even address the issue.

You keep ducking my arguments and going for invective instead:

"Calling you a nut is an understatement, because that term suggests that you're just a harmless eccentric. But what you are doing is not harmless, it is disgraceful. You are making false accusations about our president, his staff and the members of our military with no evidence. Your group of "truth seekers" has no shame about carelessly throwing about accusations of the most despicable behavior on the flimsiest of premises, like the owner of the WTC properties, who you say had a motive for destroying the towers, because of asbestos problems."

Again you try the old straw-man argument. When in doubt, change the subject, eh?

"If your group had its way you would cripple our government by your witch hunt show trials, just to satisfy your paranoid fantasies. You obviously don't know about any of the topics that you're discussing here, you're just accepting the word of a group of crackpots who have earned no respect from the professional scientific or engineering community. Don't expect to earn any respect from us."

Help! Help! The sky is falling! Someone dares question my pet theory! And they're backing it up with facts! He must be an ignorant, paranoid nut-case! What'll I do? Maybe if I call him names that'll prove he's wrong!

"I'm pretty tired of you left-wing hysteria mongers painting military people as soulless automatons that would fire missiles at civilian aircraft or consent to some heinous plot to kill American citizens just because some operative from the Pentagon gave the order. Your stupid little witch hunt is an insult to every American who has served this country."

Have I said any such thing? No. Another straw-man bites the dust. Good job!

October 09, 2006 7:12 PM  
Blogger spider said...

Harry

Sorry, I attributed one of your arguments to Duck (Carroll Sanders and the burning aluminum). That's one less germaine argument for his total score.

You rightly remember that I am NOT accusing the government of being behind the attack, but go on to say: "This is dishonest. I shouldn't have to explain why."

Of course you shouldn't. It's so much easier to state your conclusions than have to support them. Saves time and embarrassment on your part.

October 09, 2006 7:23 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Spider:

This is well within limits that the towers were built to survive. So why did the [towers] fall?

Here you inexcusably mix two entirely different concepts at once.

The towers did survive the impacts, just as they were designed to.

The towers did not survive the combined effects of structural damage and several hours of various temperature induced weakening and stresses.

Your assertion that a hydrocarbon fueled could not have caused the towers collapse is ridiculous, and directly contradicted by history. I refer you to Piper Alpha (scroll halfway down for the picture). The temperature effects on a steel structure are glaringly obvious.

There was no evidence of such aluminum ignition [at WTC disaster].

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

If you can find even one instance of an aircraft fire that did not result in the burning of the aluminum structure, I'd love to hear it. Your continued insistence on a hydrocarbon fire shows how resolutely determined you are to ignore contradictory evidence. There was a heck of a lot of other stuff burning besides jet fuel, and some of it was accelerated by pure oxygen -- surely you didn't forget that.

Additionally, you keep selectively ignoring that temperatures well below the melting point of steel were more than adequate to induce severe stresses in the structure, while simultaneously weakening the attach points.

I intuitively doubted air pressure could move steel like that. The first collapsing floor fell the 3.7 meter distance in 0.87 seconds, thus air from the center of the collapsing floor traversed a horizontal distance of about 16 meters in that time. That comes to an average expulsion velocity of 41 mph.

Your intuition is worthless, because your calculations are based upon distance, when the real quantity you are working with is volume. Rework your intuition using the volume of 64m^2 * 3.7m. Oh, BTW, don't forget your intuition needs a differential equation, as the area available for the air to escape was collapsing just as the volume was. The speed, high to start with, dramatically increased as the floor collapsed.

I'll bet you find your answer is off by roughly a factor of 9. And, yes, 370 mph is plenty of speed to move a steel beam.

Also, you would do your credibility a great deal of good if you at least took the trouble to integrate your chosen expert (Mr. Ross) and at least attempt to reconcile the "kinetic energy of falling section 2105MJ," Mr. Ross's (deeply flawed) conclusion that wasn't enough to collapse the rest of the building, and 41 mph.

Do you mean to tell me that 2105MJ can do no more than accelerate air to 41 mph?

Duck, Mr. Eagar and I need no help making your argument look ridiculous; you manage that all on your own.

The reason why 9/11 is not mentioned on Usama Bin Laden's most wanted page is because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11

Well, no hard evidence other than at least one video tape of him saying as much.

This is completely irrelevant to the discussion at hand. You have your hands full just trying to demonstrate that airliners causing the WTC collapse is unlikely, never mind "impossible."

Also, you completely fail to take on board that your Occam Razor defeating conspiracy is simultaneously incapable of arranging a little indictment, or getting the FBI to mouth the right words.

NB -- the war on terror is not a law enforcement matter.

If you are going to cite Eagar & Musso, then intellectual honesty demands you do so completely and correctly. The temperature of the fire at the WTC was not unusual, and it was most definitely not capable of melting steel is only part of the picture. You completely forgot to mention they concluded that melting the steel wasn't at all necessary for the structure's collapse, as the Piper Alpha photo clearly demonstrates.


When Duck says you have not engaged the arguments, he is completely correct. You continually:

-- Inject irrelevancies
-- Dodge or ignore pointed objections (Occam's Razor, Mr. Ross's laughable "analysis")
-- Focus on minor details (the fire temperatures and duration were sufficient to fatally weaken the structure regardless of whether the aluminum ignited), the inclusion of which would strengthen the case against your silly scenario.
-- Fail to consider whether your vaunted intuition is leading you directly to nonsense on stilts
-- Draw conclusions where none may be had (the FBI's decision to not issue an indictment is nowhere near sufficient basis for you to conclude they don't think Osama was instrumental in 9/11; before you object otherwise, please consider the difficulty the FBI has had in prosecuting known mobsters)
-- Engage in quote mining. I am loathe to call you a liar, but your redaction of Mr. Eagar's analysis comes perilously close to putting you in that company.

It is just like you read the ID/Creationist playbook.

October 10, 2006 12:46 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Unprofitable as this has been, I cannot resist pointing out that the conspiracy theorists' fixation on a temperature of 'only' 600 degrees is a fantasy.

The actual, measured temperatures in various sorts of building fires are listed in the National Fire Protection Manual, and they are a lot higher.

Of course, I suppose the manual could have been manipulated in anticipation of this problem, back when it was written in the 1930s or '40s.

October 10, 2006 5:07 PM  
Blogger spider said...

Hey Skipper:

"My points about Mr. Eagar's article were mere quibbles..."

I understand. Many people have 'quibbles' with Eagar & Musso's work.

"I do have one other quibble about Mr. Eagar's paper...oxygen generators."

I find it fascinating when you continually spot flaws in Eagar & Musso's work it is merely a 'quibble' here and a 'quibble' there, but if it is a researcher whose conclusions do not agree with your conspiracy theory it is evidence of their 'ignorance' or 'dishonesty.'

What's the phrase that comes to mind? Double standard?

"no consideration of live vs. dead load;
complete disregard (or ignorance) of transverse loads vs. axial loads;
atterly no mention of attachment points;
scarcely a word about the WTC's structure;"

Does the Official Conspiracy Theory address these points? All of these things seem to be quantifiable. If you know of any competent authority who has worked this out in relation to the annihilation of the WTC, please let me know.

"the continued citation of 600 degrees, as if the only thing on fire was Jet-A."

Has any actual evidence been produced of higher temperatures? This is the figure experts supporting your Conspiracy Theory have come up with.

"Flat wrong: assuming the structural damage was limited to merely one floor, instead of at least three. Re-run even his superficial analysis with sixteen floors worth of mass falling nearly unimpeded for fifteen meters, and get back to me."

What do the published accounts of the WTC collapse say? They all talk about one floor failing. If you have a different theory, then you set yourself in opposition to the Official Story. Welcome!

"Your assertion that Mr. Ross has been peer reviewed is either profoundly ignorant of the peer review process, or, in the absence of ignorance, equally dishonest."

Supposing such work does get 'peer reviewed' to your satisfaction, would you then accept it as established fact?

"You started this discussion, and you don't even know what it is about."

I'm afraid I do know what it is about: the Official Conspiracy Theory is in fact a theory. There are certain facts which this theory does not account for, therefore further investigation is warranted.

"Let me refresh you: it is fundamentally about whether the impact of a nearly fully fueled airliner...and the ensuing effects is sufficient to cause the eventual collapse of a WTC tower."

That is part of your theory.

"I assert that the more thorough the analysis, the more inescapable that conclusion becomes, and that your assertion of "impossible" is risible, making everything deriving from your assertion equally risible."

Seeing as the complete annihilation of three modern steel high-rise buildings in a single day is utterly unprecedented, you'll have to excuse the skepticism.

"Occam's Razor cares not about my politics or yours, and it is relentless."

I presume Occam's Razor does not require us to excise facts from discussion.

"The identity of the hijackers has no bearing on whether the aircraft could have caused the WTC to collapse."

True, but it is a part of your Official Conspiracy Theory, is it not?

"That the FBI mis-identified several hijackers does not allow you to conclude that the three actual persons were anything other than identical in nature to the correctly identified 16."

Well, it does give one reason to be cautious about their identification of the others, don't you agree?

"I have spent a fair amount of time analyzing ID/Creationist arguments. I had thought they pretty much plumbed the depths of ignorance, illogic, and outright intellectual dishonesty."

Good for you! I hate those guys, too.

"I would have thought it impossible, but the "truther's" have plunged to even more stygian depths."

We're giving the old thesaurus a real work-out, aren't we?

"But where the ID/Creationists are mostly comical, the "truther's," based upon nothing more than leaps from sheer ignorance, while wholly disregarding the self-contradicting and self-defeating requirements of their "theories" (of which there must be hundreds) are directly attacking our country and some of its most trusted institutions. There is absolutely nothing comical about that."

They probably hate Mom and Apple Pie, too. What are you doing, running for office? Running on the Paranoia ticket? 'They' are attacking the country. 'they' are undermining our institutions, 'they' are putting flouride in the water... OOPS! Wrong conspiracy.

October 10, 2006 7:52 PM  
Blogger spider said...

Hey Skipper:

"The towers did survive the impacts, just as they were designed to."

Thank you! That is exactly what I was trying to get across to Duck. Little by little we're making progress. As I noted earlier, the engineers took into account the resulting fire from collision with a large jet liner.

"The towers did not survive the combined effects of structural damage and several hours of various temperature induced weakening and stresses."

The February 13, 1975 North Tower Fire: Fire Commissioner John T. O'Hagan said yesterday that he would make a vigorous effort to have a sprinkler system installed in the World Trade Center towers as a consequence of the fire that burned for three hours in one of them early yesterday morning. "It was like fighting a blow torch" according to Captain Harold Kull of Engine Co. 6. Flames could be seen pouring out of 11th floor windows on the east side of the building.

So, this was a very serious fire which spread over some 65 per cent of the eleventh floor (the core plus half the office area) in the very same building that supposedly "collapsed" on 9/11 due to a similar, or lesser, fire. This fire also spread to a number of other floors. And although it lasted over 3 hours, it caused no serious structural damage and trusses survived the fires without replacement and supported the building for many, many more years after the fires were put out.

"Your assertion that a hydrocarbon fueled could not have caused the towers collapse is ridiculous, and directly contradicted by history. I refer you to Piper Alpha (scroll halfway down for the picture). The temperature effects on a steel structure are glaringly obvious."

As your assertion is contradicted by the history of fire in the WTC itself even before fire suppression was installed.

"There was no evidence of such aluminum ignition [at WTC disaster]." "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."

God I love that line! One would hope that a scientific investigation would proceed on the basis of actual evidence rather that pulling stuff out of one's hat whenever it was convenient.

"If you can find even one instance of an aircraft fire that did not result in the burning of the aluminum structure, I'd love to hear it."

Maybe you should ask Eagar & Musso, NIST, and the 9/11 Commission why they left this apparently crucial fact out of their considerations. They are the ones who are saying that these two crashes did not result in the burning of aluminum. Perhaps they didn't want to go beyond what was actually observed?

"Your continued insistence on a hydrocarbon fire shows how resolutely determined you are to ignore contradictory evidence."

I am merely saying that the Official Conspiracy Theory claims that in their published reports that's what it was. I can't help it if you disagree with them. But if you have anything more than anecdotal evidence (something perhaps pertaining to this particular fire?) I am sure they would love to hear it.

"There was a heck of a lot of other stuff burning besides jet fuel, and some of it was accelerated by pure oxygen -- surely you didn't forget that."

So the oxygen tanks from the planes survived the crash intact? Or did they go up when the plane first hit? I wonder...

"Additionally, you keep selectively ignoring that temperatures well below the melting point of steel were more than adequate to induce severe stresses in the structure, while simultaneously weakening the attach points."

As we have seen, the hotter, longer fire in the 1975 WTC did no such thing.

"Your intuition is worthless, because your calculations are based upon distance, when the real quantity you are working with is volume. Rework your intuition using the volume of 64m^2 * 3.7m. Oh, BTW, don't forget your intuition needs a differential equation, as the area available for the air to escape was collapsing just as the volume was. The speed, high to start with, dramatically increased as the floor collapsed. I'll bet you find your answer is off by roughly a factor of 9. And, yes, 370 mph is plenty of speed to move a steel beam."

It may be my intuition was wrong on this point. I got the 41 mph number from the studies of pro-Official Conspiracy Theorist F R Greening. Apparently they do pretty shoddy work. I'll have to delve into this further. Thanks for the information.

"Do you mean to tell me that 2105MJ can do no more than accelerate air to 41 mph?"

I'm not sure whether the weight of the descending mass would figure into it. The problem would be a certain volume of air being pushed outward in all directions as the floor above rushes toward the floor below. How fast would that air move, and would it go the path of least resistance (the broken windows) or tear loose the steel members of the building and whisk them away?

The FBI: "The reason why 9/11 is not mentioned on Usama Bin Laden's most wanted page is because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11"
Skipper: "Well, no hard evidence other than at least one video tape of him saying as much."

You'll have to get in touch with the FBI on this one. But even if the video is genuine, an unsubstantiated claim is merely a claim in need of proof.

"This is completely irrelevant to the discussion at hand. You have your hands full just trying to demonstrate that airliners causing the WTC collapse is unlikely, never mind 'impossible'."

I only included it because certain persons have maintained that it is a fact that Bin Laden was responsible. I merely pointed out that it is something that not everyone agrees upon, using the FBI as an example. If it is irrelevant, take it up with Duck.

"Also, you completely fail to take on board that your Occam Razor defeating conspiracy is simultaneously incapable of arranging a little indictment, or getting the FBI to mouth the right words."

Where have I said anything except show evidence against a conspiracy theory? You attribute too much power and influence to me to suggest that I can make the FBI say anything.

"...the war on terror is not a law enforcement matter."

Makes one wonder why they are after Bin Laden for other terror attacks, doesn't it? Are they poking their noses in where they don't belong?

"If you are going to cite Eagar & Musso, then intellectual honesty demands you do so completely and correctly. The temperature of the fire at the WTC was not unusual, and it was most definitely not capable of melting steel is only part of the picture. You completely forgot to mention they concluded that melting the steel wasn't at all necessary for the structure's collapse, as the Piper Alpha photo clearly demonstrates."

I know perfectly well what their conclusions are. I was merely pointing out how some arguments presented to me contradict their facts and conclusions. As we know, the WTC was designed to contend with a large jetliner collision (and the resulting fire) and has historically survived a longer and hotter fire without damage to the steel - even before fire suppression was installed.

BTW, since you quoted a figure used by Ross about the KE of the falling structure, are you logically bound to accept his conclusion?

"When Duck says you have not engaged the arguments, he is completely correct. You continually:
-- Inject irrelevancies"

If I have done so, please point them out specifically.

"-- Dodge or ignore pointed objections (Occam's Razor, Mr. Ross's laughable "analysis")"

You have used the Occam's Razor catch-phrase only in conjunction with 'disproving' straw-man arguments I never made.

"-- Focus on minor details (the fire temperatures and duration were sufficient to fatally weaken the structure regardless of whether the aluminum ignited), the inclusion of which would strengthen the case against your silly scenario."

The WTC design to withstand jet collisions, the 1975 fire, the whole history of steel high-rises with jet crashes and fires goes against the Official Conspiracy Theory that you so vigorously and ineptly defend.

"-- Fail to consider whether your vaunted intuition is leading you directly to nonsense on stilts"

Cute phrase, but utterly meaningless.

"-- Draw conclusions where none may be had (the FBI's decision to not issue an indictment is nowhere near sufficient basis for you to conclude they don't think Osama was instrumental in 9/11; before you object otherwise, please consider the difficulty the FBI has had in prosecuting known mobsters)"

As I said, I was merely showing that it is not an established fact that Bin Laden is responsible. It is a theory. It may be true, but it has not been proven

"-- Engage in quote mining. I am loathe to call you a liar, but your redaction of Mr. Eagar's analysis comes perilously close to putting you in that company."

You say there was burning aluminum at this crash based on your experience, they say there was not based on evidence available to them. Who should I believe?

"It is just like you read the ID/Creationist playbook."

Why read the book? You fellows have been giving me a fine tutorial on how not to argue a point.

October 10, 2006 8:00 PM  
Blogger spider said...

Harry:

"The conspiracy theorists' fixation on a temperature of 'only' 600 degrees is a fantasy."

They may be making the mistake of relying on the NIST Report based on the evidence of the WTC fire. They found no steel members were heated above 600C. If it is a fantasy, it is one promoted by the Official Conspiracy Theory touted by the mainsteam press.

"The actual, measured temperatures in various sorts of building fires are listed in the National Fire Protection Manual, and they are a lot higher."

Some fires are hotter than others. Hardly surprising to me. The question remains, how hot was this fire and how hot did the steel get? If we are constrained to go by actual evidence, we're stuck with the 600C number.

October 10, 2006 8:14 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Spider:

Don't talk to me about double standards. All of the minor quibbles I bring up serve only to strengthen an already well supported conclusion, and contradict your fixations.

Such as, "unprecedented" and "600 degs C"

Yes or no: has a fire ever been sufficient to cause the collapse of a steel structure building?

Yes or no: was the hydrocarbon initiated fire at Piper Alpha sufficiently hot to completely compromise that steel structure?

Yes or no: did the airliners' impacts cause other things to ignite other than Jet-A?

Yes or no: do those other materials burn at temperatures higher than 600 deg C?

If you had bothered to read Mr. Eagar's analysis, you would have known about higher temperatures.

Had you bothered to do even a little bit of research outside your echo chamber, you would have learned that attachment brackets failed when bolts pulled through softened metal.

October 11, 2006 11:19 AM  
Blogger spider said...

Hey Skipper:

"Yes or no: has a fire ever been sufficient to cause the collapse of a steel structure building?"

No. I have seen no evidence that fire has been sufficient to bring about the complete collapse of a modern steel-framed high-rise. I also find the fact that one of the WTC Towers survived a worse fire in 1975 to be significant.

"Yes or no: was the hydrocarbon initiated fire at Piper Alpha sufficiently hot to completely compromise that steel structure?"

It looks that way.

"Yes or no: did the airliners' impacts cause other things to ignite other than Jet-A?"

Yes.

"Yes or no: do those other materials burn at temperatures higher than 600 deg C?"

Sure, why not?

"If you had bothered to read Mr. Eagar's analysis, you would have known about higher temperatures."

Eagar speculates that the fire was probably in the range between 500-1000C, and that it is unlikely that the steel was heated more than 750-800C. This agrees fairly well with the NIST Report that states that upon examination of steel members from the WTC none were found to have been heated above 600C.

One thing this theory does not account for is that the fires were dying when the actual failure occurred. Diagrams provided by the NIST show considerable cooling had taken place (the fire was hottest in WTC1 at 30-45 minutes and the collapse didn't happen until 102 minutes).

I understand that steel regains its strength on cooling. Having survived the worst of the fire (when the steel was at its weakest), there is no explanation of why it should have subsequently failed.

"Had you bothered to do even a little bit of research outside your echo chamber, you would have learned that attachment brackets failed when bolts pulled through softened metal."

I already knew that. Is it news to you? It is part of the Official Theory of the collapse.

One quibble, if I may: if the bolts supporting the floor became unattached from the columns, then how did these same bolts have the strength to pull down the columns? It seems like they must be either attached or unattached, not both at the same time.

October 11, 2006 5:28 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Spider:

No. I have seen no evidence that fire has been sufficient to bring about the complete collapse of a modern steel-framed high-rise. I also find the fact that one of the WTC Towers survived a worse fire in 1975 to be significant.

You didn't answer the question. The correct answer is "Yes." Given that, the next question: Is there anything about the WTC construction that would make it immune to structural fire induced failure?

Also, you say the 1975 fire was worse. In what way? Was it larger? Did it last longer? Did it include significant structural damage as part of the fire's cause? Did it include significant breaching of the windows so as to allow a greater supply of air to the fire?

Fires involving nothing more than building materials and contents have been sufficient to cause steel buildings to collapse. A hydrocarbon initiated fire clearly can get hot enough to completely compromise a steel structure. The subsequent fires in the WTC involved materials other than Jet-A which also burn hotter than Jet-A. Significant temperature differences across a steel structure induce significant stress.

The only thing unprecedented about the WTC fires was the manner of their initiation. Everything else that happened after that is well within the long, sad, history of structural fires, and not one thing you have mentioned gives any reason to suddenly ignore that history.


By the way, I have accused you before of quote mining, a standard ID/Creationist tactic. If you are going to continually cite the NIST Report as failing to substantiate the theory that the airliners caused the buildings impact, then stop leaving out the portions that directly contradict your assertions. Perusing the NIST's FAQs:

1. If the World Trade Center (WTC) towers were designed to withstand multiple impacts by Boeing 707 aircraft, why did the impact of individual 767s cause so much damage?

As stated in Section 5.3.2 of NIST NCSTAR 1, a document from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) indicated that the impact of a [single, not multiple] Boeing 707 aircraft was analyzed during the design stage of the WTC towers. However, NIST investigators were unable to locate any documentation of the criteria and method used in the impact analysis and, therefore, were unable to verify the assertion that “… such collision would result in only local damage which could not cause collapse or substantial damage to the building.…”

The capability to conduct rigorous simulations of the aircraft impact, the growth and spread of the ensuing fires, and the effects of fires on the structure is a recent development. Since the approach to structural modeling was developed for the NIST WTC investigation, the technical capability available to the PANYNJ and its consultants and contactors to perform such analyses in the 1960s would have been quite limited in comparison to the capabilities brought to bear in the NIST investigation.

The damage from the impact of a Boeing 767 aircraft (which is about 20 percent bigger than a Boeing 707) into each tower is well documented in NCSTAR 1-2. The massive damage was caused by the large mass of the aircraft, their high speed and momentum, which severed the relatively light steel of the exterior columns on the impact floors. The results of the NIST impact analyses matched well with observations (from photos and videos and analysis of recovered WTC steel) of exterior damage and of the amount and location of debris exiting from the buildings. This agreement supports the premise that the structural damage to the towers was due to the aircraft impact and not to any alternative forces.


3. How could the WTC towers have collapsed without a controlled demolition since no steel-frame, high-rise buildings have ever before or since been brought down due to fires? Temperatures due to fire don't get hot enough for buildings to collapse.

The collapse of the WTC towers was not caused either by a conventional building fire or even solely by the concurrent multi-floor fires that day. Instead, NIST concluded that the WTC towers collapsed because: (1) the impact of the planes severed and damaged support columns, dislodged fireproofing insulation coating the steel floor trusses and steel columns, and widely dispersed jet fuel over multiple floors; and (2) the subsequent unusually large, jet-fuel ignited multi-floor fires weakened the now susceptible structural steel. No building in the United States has ever been subjected to the massive structural damage and concurrent multi-floor fires that the towers experienced on Sept. 11, 2001.

Of particular note is this passage from the FAQs (NB -- I had never even heard of the NIST report until you came along, nor read any portion of it just now):

6. How could the WTC towers collapse in only 11 seconds (WTC 1) and 9 seconds (WTC 2)—speeds that approximate that of a ball dropped from similar height in a vacuum (with no air resistance)?

NIST estimated the elapsed times for the first exterior panels to strike the ground after the collapse initiated in each of the towers to be approximately 11 seconds for WTC 1 and approximately 9 seconds for WTC 2. These elapsed times were based on: (1) precise timing of the initiation of collapse from video evidence, and (2) ground motion (seismic) signals recorded at Palisades, N.Y., that also were precisely time-calibrated for wave transmission times from lower Manhattan (see NCSTAR 1-5A).

As documented in Section 6.14.4 of NIST NCSTAR 1, these collapse times show that:

“… the structure below the level of collapse initiation offered minimal resistance to the falling building mass at and above the impact zone. The potential energy released by the downward movement of the large building mass far exceeded the capacity of the intact structure below to absorb that energy through energy of deformation.

Since the stories below the level of collapse initiation provided little resistance to the tremendous energy released by the falling building mass, the building section above came down essentially in free fall, as seen in videos. As the stories below sequentially failed, the falling mass increased, further increasing the demand on the floors below, which were unable to arrest the moving mass.”

In other words, the momentum (which equals mass times velocity) of the 12 to 28 stories (WTC 1 and WTC 2, respectively) falling on the supporting structure below (which was designed to support only the static weight of the floors above and not any dynamic effects due to the downward momentum) so greatly exceeded the strength capacity of the structure below that it (the structure below) was unable to stop or even to slow the falling mass. The downward momentum felt by each successive lower floor was even larger due to the increasing mass.


Sound similar to anything you have read here?

Etc.

Let us hear no more about the NIST report in any way supporting your baseless conclusions.

And unless you can come up with something other than Mr. Ross's analysis, so deficient as to excess the possibility of parody, then you should strongly reconsider your devotion to fantastical conspiracy theories.

Finally, You have used the Occam's Razor catch-phrase only in conjunction with 'disproving' straw-man arguments I never made.

Occam's Razor is not a catchphrase. It is a potent objection to all the "truther's" concoctions, which require a truly embarrassing proliferation of entities.

Occam's Razor is fatal to you.

October 11, 2006 8:05 PM  
Blogger spider said...

Hey Skipper:

"You didn't answer the question."

My answer is no, I have seen no evidence that fire has been sufficient to bring about the complete collapse of a modern steel-framed high-rise. I also find the fact that one of the WTC Towers survived a worse fire in 1975 to be significant.

"The correct answer is 'Yes'."

Examples of fire-induced complete collapse of modern steel-framed high-rises would be appropriate here.

"Is there anything about the WTC construction that would make it immune to structural fire induced failure?"

I'm not sure that it would be 'immune', just that I have seen no evidence that such complete annihilation of such a strong building has ever occurred, or is common, or is inevitable. If you have access to data on this I'd like to see it.

"Also, you say the 1975 fire was worse. In what way? Was it larger? Did it last longer?"

The fire started on the 11th floor on February 23, 1975. The fire department on arrival found a very intense fire. "It was like fighting a blow torch" according to Captain Harold Kull of Engine Co. 6. The inferno spread over some 65 per cent of the eleventh floor (the core plus half the office area). It was not immediately known that the fire was spreading vertically from floor to floor through openings in the floor slab. Fire spread down to the 9th and as far up as the 19th floor. That's ten floors involved! It burned for three hours.

"Did it include significant structural damage as part of the fire's cause?"

No. But the WTC was designed to withstand multiple airliner collisions and the resulting fires.

"Did it include significant breaching of the windows so as to allow a greater supply of air to the fire?"

Yes. Flames could be seen pouring out of 11th floor windows on the east side of the building.

"Fires involving nothing more than building materials and contents have been sufficient to cause steel buildings to collapse."

I have not seen this evidence.

"A hydrocarbon initiated fire clearly can get hot enough to completely compromise a steel structure. The subsequent fires in the WTC involved materials other than Jet-A which also burn hotter than Jet-A. Significant temperature differences across a steel structure induce significant stress."

Presumably the 1975 fire would affect the steel structure in a similar way, yet none of the steel needed replacement afterwards. It stood a quarter-century more on this 'compromised' steel.

"The only thing unprecedented about the WTC fires was the manner of their initiation. Everything else that happened after that is well within the long, sad, history of structural fires, and not one thing you have mentioned gives any reason to suddenly ignore that history."

Everything I have seen so far indicates otherwise. If you have evidence that global collapse of such buildings from fire is common or inevitable please share it with me.

"By the way, I have accused you before of quote mining, a standard ID/Creationist tactic."

Yes, you have.

"If you are going to continually cite the NIST Report as failing to substantiate the theory that the airliners caused the buildings impact, then stop leaving out the portions that directly contradict your assertions."

I don't understand why one shouldn't use this published source for matters of fact. It is their conclusions which are questionable. Am I supposed to go to China or wherever they dumped the steel to conduct my own investigation? Or just pull stuff out of my hat as I see others on this board do?

"NIST investigators were unable to locate any documentation of the criteria and method used in the impact analysis."

That's as may be, but everyone agrees that the building withstood the impact quite nicely, don't we? Or are you changing you mind on this?

"The technical capability available to the PANYNJ and its consultants and contactors to perform such analyses in the 1960s would have been quite limited in comparison to the capabilities brought to bear in the NIST investigation."

No doubt. But those old-time engineers did it right.

http://911research.wtc7.net/wtc/analysis/design.html

"The collapse of the WTC towers was not caused either by a conventional building fire or even solely by the concurrent multi-floor fires that day."

They said a mouthful.

"Instead, NIST concluded that the WTC towers collapsed because: (1) the impact of the planes severed and damaged support columns,"

No one disputes this. How widespread this damage was, and how serious is another question. How asymmetrical damage caused symmetrical collapse is another interesting question. Do they address that?

"dislodged fireproofing insulation coating the steel floor trusses and steel columns,"

No doubt some of this occurred. Again was it localised or global?

"and widely dispersed jet fuel over multiple floors;"

Granted.

"and (2) the subsequent unusually large, jet-fuel ignited multi-floor fires weakened the now susceptible structural steel."

This is another area where there is debate. How much steel was exposed to temperatures hot enough to compromise them, and where were these steel members located?

"No building in the United States has ever been subjected to the massive structural damage and concurrent multi-floor fires that the towers experienced on Sept. 11, 2001."

Jets have run into buildings before. That's why the engineers designed the WTC to sustain multiple hits by jets comparable to the ones that actually did strike them. How many of them collapsed into a pile of dust and neatly sectioned steel members? Please link me to them.

“… the structure below the level of collapse initiation offered minimal resistance to the falling building mass at and above the impact zone."

It defies common sense to suggest that the large intact structure beneath offered 'minimal resistance' to the relatively small compromised mass above, such that it was like moving through only air. We're talking about a lattice of undamaged steel never exposed to fire.

"The potential energy released by the downward movement of the large building mass far exceeded the capacity of the intact structure below to absorb that energy through energy of deformation."

That is contradicted by the work of Dr Jones.

"In other words, the momentum (which equals mass times velocity) of the 12 to 28 stories (WTC 1 and WTC 2, respectively) falling on the supporting structure below (which was designed to support only the static weight of the floors above and not any dynamic effects due to the downward momentum) so greatly exceeded the strength capacity of the structure below that it (the structure below) was unable to stop or even to slow the falling mass."

That is their theory. This analysis assumes only the first storey below is affected by the impact. They apparently do not take into account the fact that momentum would be transferred to several other stories below. A valid analysis must include all these momentum transfers. Where do they quantify the effect of the propagation wave dissipating the energy downward through the undamaged sections below the impact front?

"The downward momentum felt by each successive lower floor was even larger due to the increasing mass."

Does this analysis take into account the loss of energy and mass by the explosive expulsion of debris outward? What about the energy needed to pulverise the concrete? These are things that can be quantified. Are we to simply take their word for it?

"Sound similar to anything you have read here?"

Yes. (Yawn)

"Let us hear no more about the NIST report in any way supporting your baseless conclusions."

Sorry. Just because they are saying 2+2=5 does not mean I am forbidden to use those two's to argue that 2+2=4.

"And unless you can come up with something other than Mr. Ross's analysis, so deficient as to excess the possibility of parody,"

As scholars like Jones and Ross have shown, the Official Story is deficient in many regards, yet it does not stop you from putting your faith in it (unfamiliar with it as you are).

"then you should strongly reconsider your devotion to fantastical conspiracy theories.

Show me specifically where I have argued anything for a conspiracy theory. I have only argued against the fantastical conspiracy theory you defend. Just cut and paste from my posts, please.

"Occam's Razor is not a catchphrase. It is a potent objection to all the "truther's" concoctions, which require a truly embarrassing proliferation of entities. Occam's Razor is fatal to you."

Again, I challenge you to show where I have 'proliferated entities' in this discussion. Name them. Be specific.

October 12, 2006 7:52 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Spider:

I understand you find the 1975 fire significant, but it did not sheer any of the buildings structure, nor did it involve the loss of structural insulation, nor did it involve some 90,000 lbs of accelerant, nor did it involve the complete destruction of the water sprinkling system, thereby eliminating any means of mitigating temperatures.

So there are a whole bunch of reason to conclude that 2001 and 1975 are insufficiently alike to draw any conclusions whatsoever.

Unless, that is, one is pre-comitted to the conclusion. Then any excuse will do.

Examples of fire-induced complete collapse of modern steel-framed high-rises would be appropriate here.

Why the restriction? History is replete with steel buildings that have collapsed as a consequence of a fire. Unless you can point out where steel-framed skyscrapers are somehow immune to gravity, temperature, and kinetic energy, then your claim is resting upon thin air.


No. But the WTC was designed to withstand multiple airliner collisions and the resulting fires.

Completely unsupported; the NIST states the ability to model the consequences of fires is difficult today, and was impossible then.

Yes. Flames could be seen pouring out of 11th floor windows on the east side of the building.

Which provides nowhere near the ventilation that the destruction of all windows on all sides would.

Everything I have seen so far indicates otherwise. If you have evidence that global collapse of such buildings from fire is common or inevitable please share it with me.

I am not your research department; you can find the answer for yourself.

I don't understand why one shouldn't use this published source for matters of fact. It is their conclusions which are questionable.

Their matters of fact thoroughly support their conclusions. What is more, you ignore many matters of fact they cite, most conspicuously your continued insistence upon 600 deg C, when the report includes temperatures in excess of 1000 degs.

That's as may be, but everyone agrees that the building withstood the impact quite nicely, don't we? Or are you changing you mind on this?

As nicely as could be expected. And, considering all the insults, it stood for an admirably long time.

No one disputes this. How widespread this damage was, and how serious is another question. How asymmetrical damage caused symmetrical collapse is another interesting question. Do they address that?

Don't have to. For people not following their intuition, gravity supplies all the answer required.

Jets have run into buildings before.

Stop. Now. This is a lie, or at best astonishing economy with the truth. Here is the correct statement: No building has ever been hit by a large aircraft traveling anywhere near maximum structural airspeed.

t defies common sense to suggest that the large intact structure beneath offered 'minimal resistance' to the relatively small compromised mass above

I'll ignore for the moment that your common sense has already been found wanting. Your relatively small is laughably wrong, and completely ignores the distinction between live and dead loads, which is a matter of fact, included in the NIST report, and which you conveniently, umm, omit.

That is contradicted by the work of Dr Jones.

You need to read your presentations more carefully. It was contradicted by Mr. Ross (cited by Dr. Jones) in an astonishingly superficial analysis subjected to absolutely no peer review (the 'truthers" echo chamber does not count).

Sorry. Just because they are saying 2+2=5 does not mean I am forbidden to use those two's to argue that 2+2=4.

Wrong. You are arguing 2 + 6 - (my intuition) / (my common sense) - clear historical precedence * hyper-focus on some data/exclusion of contradicting data = whatever you had concluded in advance.

Show me specifically where I have argued anything for a conspiracy theory. I have only argued against the fantastical conspiracy theory you defend. Just cut and paste from my posts, please.

"Occam's Razor is not a catchphrase. It is a potent objection to all the "truther's" concoctions, which require a truly embarrassing proliferation of entities. Occam's Razor is fatal to you."


Okay, this is show time. In order for anything the "truthers" insist upon, a conspiracy of thousands is required. Your fantastical theories are exercises in pure imaginary vendetta without an endless queue of people to plant explosives throughout the building, in nearly inaccessible locations, without anyone noticing. An entire additional queue of people to hide evidence and fake analysis, a motive that couldn't have been as well satisfied by avoiding all those complications entirely, and conspirators who are simultaneously diabolically clever and impenetrably stupid.

Your end of the discussion, ridiculous as it already has been, is utterly impossible without taking all of that into account, which "truthers" are singularly loathe to do.

Until you start addressing the manifestly obvious requirements of your position, which are there whether you have stated them or not, then this discussion is over.

Occam's Razor is fatal to you.

October 12, 2006 11:34 AM  
Blogger spider said...

I won't bother with a point-by-point rebuttal of your post. You are apparently either unwilling or unable to grasp the significance of what I write.

Since you constantly fail to provide any factual support for your Conspiracy Theory, or your accusations against me, I can only conclude you have none.

Have I argued for conspiracy theories? No. Yet you accuse me again and again. Why the red herring? Don't your contentions stand on their own?

Is the complete annihilation of a steel frame high-rise inevitable, or commonplace? No. You haven't even cited a single example. That you won't do my research for me I understand, but you should do your own for yourself.

Your argument is completely hollow. It is useless for me to contend with someone who neither makes an argument of his own nor can apparently understand an argument made by me.

Talk about an echo chamber! It's like I'm the only person here.

No one will prise your precious Conspiracies from your grasp, and you will undoubtedly take them to your grave- neither understanding them nor why they are manifestly wrong.

October 12, 2006 2:02 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Spider:

Have I argued for conspiracy theories? No. Yet you accuse me again and again.

You tell me how any alternative to the NIST conclusions could be accomplished without a cast of thousands.

October 12, 2006 2:19 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Spider:

Never mind.

I did some further research. It appears the "truthers" are right after all.

October 12, 2006 10:34 PM  
Blogger spider said...

hey Skipper:

That cartoon is the most evidence you've put forth for your position so far. How could anyone refute an argument made by a guy who works with paper dolls?

Good work!

BTW - solved the puzzle about how those fire-softened bolts were simultaneously too weak to support their own weight yet strong enough to pull down a sky-scraper?

October 13, 2006 7:33 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Spider:

That cartoon is brilliant satire.

Is the complete annihilation of a steel frame high-rise inevitable, or commonplace? No. You haven't even cited a single example. That you won't do my research for me I understand, but you should do your own for yourself.

Is the impact of airliner at full speed commonplace?

Of course I can't cite an single example, as it had never happened prior t 9/11.

By your logic, you can't go anywhere you haven't already been.

BTW - solved the puzzle about how those fire-softened bolts were simultaneously too weak to support their own weight yet strong enough to pull down a sky-scraper?

Do you have any idea how completely incoherent that sentence is? 41 mph is a model of sound reasoning in comparison.

It is time to put up or shut up. Tell me how any alternative to the NIST conclusions could be accomplished without a cast of thousands.

Unless you can do that, then your entire position collapses in the face of Occam's Razor. In comparison, your objections are nothing more than tots and jittles, where they aren't completely laughable.

Until you do, then expect no more comments from me.

October 13, 2006 8:35 AM  
Blogger spider said...

Skipper:

This is not the place to speculate about possible 9/11 scenarios. What is needed is solid evidence. That is why it would be fruitful to have had a decent investigation in the first place. But in my opinion we should go wherever the evidence leads. Let justice be done though the heavens fall.

Suffice to say that the Bin-Laden-did-it theory that the government glommed onto within hours of the tragedy has never been proven, even five years on.

You seem to think it is impossible for a large conspiracy to exist. You may never heard of the Manhattan Project. If Occam's Razor works they way you think it does such a large project could not have been conducted in secrecy, as it involved thousands. Yet it is a historical fact.

October 13, 2006 2:47 PM  

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