More Evidence Released Debunking 9/11 Conspiracy Theorists

Six years after the anniversary there’s still those who deny the fact that the twin towers collapsed as a result of a terrorist attack consisting of two airplanes hitting the World Trade Center. The BBC has posted additional evidence to refute those who propose alternative conspiracy theories. (Hat tip to Ed Morrissey).

Dr Keith Seffen set out to test mathematically whether this chain reaction really could explain what happened in Lower Manhattan six years ago. The findings are to be published in the Journal of Engineering Mechanics.

Previous studies have tended to focus on the initial stages of collapse, showing that there was an initial, localised failure around the aircraft impact zones, and that this probably led to the progressive collapse of both structures.

In other words, the damaged parts of the tower were bound to fall down, but it was not clear why the undamaged building should have offered little resistance to these falling parts.

“The initiation part has been quantified by many people; but no one had put numbers on the progressive collapse,” Dr Seffen told the BBC News website.

Dr Seffen was able to calculate the “residual capacity” of the undamaged building: that is, simply speaking, the ability of the undamaged structure to resist or comply with collapse.

His calculations suggest the residual capacity of the north and south towers was limited, and that once the collapse was set in motion, it would take only nine seconds for the building to go down.

There has already been extensive work debunking the claims of the 9/11 conspiracy theorists, such as in this review by Popular Mechanics and this computer simulation I previously posted. Of course none of the evidence will have any influence on the type of people who buy into these conspiracy theories, as I found after the last time I debunked their claims.

Update: Additional references were added in the comments:

Scientific American

The 9/11 Truth Movement in Perspective

Debunking 911 Conspiracy Theories

911 Conspiracy Theories

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  1. 1
    Robert Rouse says:

    Just stopped by to let you know I used your post as part of my 9/11 edition of the Blog World Report.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    Thanks for the link.

  3. 3
    Liberal Journal says:

    Sorry Ron,

    Don’t post on what Popular Mechanics says without showing the opposing view point. PM’s editor has made the argument that questioning the official story desecrates the victims. IN other words, if you aren’t with the official story, you’re with the terrorists. The senior researcher for PM’s first 9/11 piece was Benjamin Chertoff, Michael Chertoff’s 25 year old cousin.

    Did BBC explain why they announced the collapse of WTC 7 20 minutes before it happened? What of the US government having no official explanation of WTC 7’s collapse? This collapse which happened nine hours later at free fall speed with a few small fires, while closer buildings, 5 and 6 were horribly destroyed but didn’t collapse–they just slowly burned?

    What of the scientists who all say that to create absolutely no resistance you need to systematically cut the core beams? They are crazies because Popular Mechanics and Fox News says so? That’s it, debunked, clearly!

    By taking this view, you believe that the 9/11 Commission Report was sufficient in interviewing Bush and Cheney off the record in the same room for one hour. And in not explaining the reasons for WTC 7’s collapse.

    You have no problem that 80 some odd videos of the area around the Pentagon were seized within minutes, but only one blurry 5 frame video has been presented to the American people. Or that the phone calls of people on these plans haven’t been released, but their transcripts have.

    It’s one thing to say you haven’t been convinced YET that members of our government were involved. It’s another to completely take a simple swipe and dismiss the whole thing, and take credence in a report that left a whole lot of important facts out. If there’s unanswered questions, a rational mind EMBRACES them, rather than taking a few straw man arguments and biased sources and dismissing the entire notion.

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    You are confusing acceptance of all aspects of the investigation with the arguments of a government conspiracy.

    It is not necessary to accept a conspiracy in order to be dissatisfied with problems such as the manner in which Bush and Cheney were interviewed. The real problem is that they were kept from adequately investigating the failings of the Bush administration in responding to warnings of the attack.

    A rational mind distinguishes between plausible arguments and unsubstantiated conspiracies. I’ve seen no credible evidence to discount the view that planes flown by terrorists were responsible for the collapse of the WTC. The arguments provided are based upon science and are hardly strawmen arguments.

  5. 5
    Allen Branson says:

    Interesting how you and other debunkers toss off all “conspiracy theorists” as nut cases who have no interest in evidence. As “evidence” of this, you bring forth the Popular Mechanics article that cherry picked the theories it would debunk, ignoring many important arguments that it would rather not acknowledge. You then trot out ONE scientist claiming it makes sense that a building could collapse at near free fall against literally HUNDREDS of others with just as impressive qualifications who say it can’t happen.

    You call this rational discourse? Your statement above, “A rational mind distinguishes between plausible arguments and unsubstantiated conspiracies” is specious at best. It sounds nice at first blush, but it is deceptive. There is a tremendous amount of substantiation for at least considering the possibility that all is not right with the official story.

    But are you really interested in the truth, or do you merely want to protect your position? Why don’t you and Dr. Steffen mention building 7? I would love to hear how that also collapses into its own footprint without any damage whatsoever beyond a little fire.

  6. 6
    Liberal Journal says:


    It may appear that I am confusing them, but consider the following. A new investigation may reaffirm previous conclusions or more strongly suggest government involvement. The first investigation clearly painted the government in its most favorable light, they may go together, and so you cannot separate the call for a new investigation with the possibility of a criminal conspiracy in the government.

    You also stated, “I’ve seen no credible evidence to discount the view that planes flown by terrorists were responsible for the collapse of the WTC.” That is in and of itself a straw man argument, because it assumes that in determining government involvement the sole factor at issue is whether the planes caused the collapse. Norman Mineta said he saw Dick Cheney saying the orders for NORAD to stand down still stand before the plane hit the Pentagon. That has nothing to do with whether the planes cause the crash, but highly suggests government complicity. This evidence has also been ignored and Mineta himself doesn’t deny his statement, but remains evasive when pressed on it.

    Why isn’t the burden on the government, which is privy to all of the evidence? It makes no sense to implicitly place the burden on those not privy to all of the evidence.

    Back to specific claims. What credible evidence is there to believe that WTC 7, which wasn’t hit by planes, was caused by the planes that hit 1 and 2? The explanation is only what we’ve been told, and the government has no official explanation for it six years after the attacks. Clear visual evidence shows a few small fires and no one expected it to collapse before it did. Eyewitness evidence, which wasn’t considered, heard bombs in WTC 1, 2 AND 7. Why wasn’t this even mentioned in the 9/11 report?

    If the analysis of WTC 7 isn’t persuasive, what of BYU professor Steven Jones who conducted an analysis of molten metal from the towers and found traces of thermate, used in demolitions. Can this evidence be proven wrong? Is saying that it was a mixture of surrounding substances absolutely conclusive against this notion? If not, don’t you have to weigh this piece of evidence along with the rest? I’d love to have more expansive chemical analysis, but the debris was quickly sent off for its own demolition including human remains.

    The evidence you cite as debunking conspiracy theorists is highly suspect. Unless you cite countervailing evidence, your conclusion is fatally flawed. Other than ‘Popular Mechanics’ being a publication which deals with science generally, it is exceptionally poor to call its analysis of 9/11 scientific. It is inconsistent with the scientific method to ignore other possible explanations. In fact, it cherry picks obviously bogus claims like was there a missile on one of the planes, because one 9/11 video discusses a military pod on a plane. But that is the classic straw man argument. The counter to the PM hit piece is this markup of the article and its supposed references:

    Everything I have mentioned in these two posts are just the tip of the iceberg. 9/11 truthers just want an honest investigation that looks at all of the evidence honestly.

    By placing the burden on questioning citizens, by cherry picking by Michael Chertoff’s cousin and Fox News, which loves to cite Popular Mechanics as the end all and be all of 9/11 conspiracy theories (they just did today), it becomes extremely easy to dismiss the endeavor.

    You must look at circumstantial evidence, and there are literally hundreds of inconsistencies, inaccuracies, and coincidences (not 16 claims that PM chose), because that’s all we have been given.

  7. 7
    Ron Chusid says:

    Dismissing evidence as “highly suspect” is typical of conspiracy theorists. However, if you don’t like the Popular Mechanics article there are plenty of other sources which provide explanations based upon science which debunk the conspiracy theories.

    Among other sources:

    Scientific American

    The 9/11 Truth Movement in Perspective

    Debunking 911 Conspiracy Theories

    911 Conspiracy Theories

  8. 8
    Allen Branson says:

    And for fairness, do you want to include the many sites that also show why the evidence is highly suspect, written by credible sources?

  9. 9
    Ron Chusid says:

    While many sites do argue with the evidence, I have not seen any sites which present any credible evidence to contradict these sources.

  10. 10
    Liberal Journal says:


    You are disengaging yourself from the decision making process.

    It would be intellectually dishonest for me to post on my blog, Global Warming Doesn’t Exist, then for you to discuss greenhouse gases, etc. and convection, and then for me to say, ‘here are links to sites where people don’t agree. I see no evidence supporting your assertion.’

    It is intellectually dishonest to simply say, see Michael Schermer of the Scientific American debunked 9/11 because of his four paragraph article, one of which addresses only one real claim that heat weakens steel, therefore there is nothing amiss about collapsing at free fall speed. This has NEVER happened to other steel buildings which were weakened by fire.

    I spotted similar problems within seconds with your other “references”. The eSkeptic article states, “Dr. Steven Jones’ popular article cites several anecdotal sources speaking about flowing or pooled samples of melted steel found at Ground Zero. However, the sources in question are informal observations of “steel” at Ground Zero, not laboratory results.” Steven Jones did find thermate.

    The Debunking 9/11 myth site uses the straw man of the ‘The Oklahoma City building didn’t fall’…well obviously, those were different conditions!

    The 9/11 Myths site also has such straw men as “Mohammed Atta was a regular visitor to Jack Abramoffs casinos.”

    Finally, you completely ignored my argument, as well as all of my specific claims, that the planes being the cause of the collapse are only one dimension of the alternate theories!

  11. 11
    Liberal Journal says:

    Oh and picking out one characterization in my post, me saying something is “highly suspect” FOLLOWED BY REASONING, and calling me typical of a conspiracy theorist is also intellectually dishonest.

  12. 12
    Ron Chusid says:

    You’ve got it backwards with regards to intellectual dishonesty. Writing off specious reasoning as that typical of a conspiracy theorist is the exact and most intellectual honest response posssible. The seduction of consipracy theories by some, including their false belief that they are engaging in “reasoning” is a well known and studied psychological phenonmenon. Time Magazine provided a good review of the problem:

    But there’s a big problem with Loose Change and with most other conspiracy theories. The more you think about them, the more you realize how much they depend on circumstantial evidence, facts without analysis or documentation, quotes taken out of context and the scattered testimony of traumatized eyewitnesses. (For what it’s worth, the National Institute of Standards and Technology has published a fact sheet responding to some of the conspiracy theorists’ ideas on its website, The theories prompt small, reasonable questions that demand answers that are just too large and unreasonable to swallow. Granted, the Pentagon crash site looks odd in photographs. But if the Pentagon was hit by a cruise missile, then what happened to American Airlines Flight 77? Where did all the real, documented people on it go? Assassinated? Relocated? What about eyewitnesses who saw a plane, not a missile? And what are the chances that an operation of such size–it would surely have involved hundreds of military and civilian personnel–could be carried out without a single leak? Without leaving behind a single piece of evidence hard enough to stand up to scrutiny in a court? People, the feds just aren’t that slick. Nobody is.

    There are psychological explanations for why conspiracy theories are so seductive. Academics who study them argue that they meet a basic human need: to have the magnitude of any given effect be balanced by the magnitude of the cause behind it. A world in which tiny causes can have huge consequences feels scary and unreliable. Therefore a grand disaster like Sept. 11 needs a grand conspiracy behind it. “We tend to associate major events–a President or princess dying–with major causes,” says Patrick Leman, a lecturer in psychology at Royal Holloway University of London, who has conducted studies on conspiracy belief. “If we think big events like a President being assassinated can happen at the hands of a minor individual, that points to the unpredictability and randomness of life and unsettles us.” In that sense, the idea that there is a malevolent controlling force orchestrating global events is, in a perverse way, comforting.

    You would have thought the age of conspiracy theories might have declined with the rise of digital media. The assassination of President John F. Kennedy was a private, intimate affair compared with the attack on the World Trade Center, which was witnessed by millions of bystanders and television viewers and documented by hundreds of Zapruders. You would think there was enough footage and enough forensics to get us past the grassy knoll and the magic bullet, to create a consensus reality, a single version of the truth, a single world we can all live in together.

    But there is no event so plain and clear that a determined human being can’t find ambiguity in it. And as divisive as they are, conspiracy theories are part of the process by which Americans deal with traumatic public events like Sept. 11. Conspiracy theories form around them like scar tissue. In a curious way, they’re an American form of national mourning. They’ll be with us as long as we fear lone gunmen, and feel the pain of losses like the one we suffered on Sept. 11, and as long as the past, even the immediate past, is ultimately unknowable. That is to say, forever.

    “You are disengaging yourself from the decision making process.”

    To some degree yes, and that is exactly what should be done with technical issues. It is another falacy of denialists that their arm chair logic, often accompanied by unsound scientific claims, substitutes for actual evidence. These are the same types of arguments provided by creationists about evolution and global warming deniers.

    Conspiracy theories don’t lend themselves to rational debate as their proponents always develop a mechanism by which established data is all claimed to be false. An internally consistent conspiracy theory can always be developed which makes all contrary evidence part of the conspiracy. Ultimately apply Ockham’s Razor in such situations will generally lead to the better answer. We have film showing the planes hitting the building. We have bin Laden admitting to the attack, along with evidence showing that al Qaeda had actually been planning such an attack for a long time. We have scientific models which demonstrate that the planes could have done the damage which resulted. Alternative theories present far greater problems than the claimed inconsistencies of the conspiracy theoriests. There’s a strong burden of proof on conspiracy theories to show why we should consider a far more implausible scenario and no such evidence has been presented.

  13. 13
    Liberal Journal says:

    Don’t hide behind some macro-psychoanalysis, which just as easily explains why people are in complete denial of any other alternate explanation as you seem to be.

    That analysis can be quickly turned around to apply to you, because you are using this conspiracy theorist label indiscriminately. You are refusing to engage in a debate of the issues.

    You are engaging in a name calling exercise to squelch debate, meanwhile having failed to confront any of the claims I have raised.

    I simply can’t take your pathetic attempts to categorize what I have said as ‘typical of conspiracy theorists’ when you are the only party in this exchange which has ignored the claims of the other.

  14. 14
    Liberal Journal says:

    “There’s a strong burden of proof on conspiracy theories”

    Says whom? Again, the government is privy to the evidence, not the citizens.

    “We have film showing the planes hitting the building.”

    Another straw man. No serious 9/11 truther believes otherwise.

    “We have bin Laden admitting to the attack, along with evidence showing that al Qaeda had actually been planning such an attack for a long time.”

    We have Norman Mineta witnessing Dick Cheney stating that the orders are to stand down. Does that necessarily conflict with bin Laden having a role?

    “We have scientific models which demonstrate that the planes could have done the damage which resulted.”

    We have contrary scientific models, which you refuse to link to. We also have evidence of thermate. And then the small little fact that no steel building has ever collapsed due to fire, much less 3 in one day, in the same incident, where only two were hit by a plane, much less at free fall speed.

    And you have yet to apologize for posting the ‘authoritative’ Popular Mechanics article co-authored by Michael Chertoff’s 25 year old cousin. I’m sure we should remove ourselves from the decision making process and listen to the “real experts.”

  15. 15
    Liberal Journal says:

    “Ultimately apply Ockham’s Razor in such situations will generally lead to the better answer.”

    First, a presumption on your part.

    Second, Occam’s Razor didn’t work with the PM article researched by Michael Chertoff’s young cousin, did it? Now you resorted to citing a couple of anonymous webpages, again the “real experts.”

  16. 16
    Ron Chusid says:

    Ockham’s Razor works quite well here.

    Your rants about Benjamin Chertoff are just another example of the despiration efforts to promote your theories and ignore the facts. The author of the Popular Mechanics article is a distant relation who never met Michael Chertoff. This has no bearing on the validity of the article.

    I’ve already provided plenty of information and references in the unlikely event that there’s any readers who do not already have an opinion on this and don’t see this as a worthwhile use of further time. However, feel free to carry on. Your comments do help to demonstrate my points on conspiracy theorists.

  17. 17
    Liberal Journal says:

    Your comments illustrate how foolish your assertion is that you have debunked 9/11.

    The only thing you have debunked is the notion that you are a rational, critical thinking, open-minded liberal, because you utterly refuse to discuss ANY of the issues of 9/11, including those within a common person’s “technical” expertise.

  18. 18
    Ron Chusid says:

    Good, very good. Keep going. The more you make statements like this, the more you prove my point.

    Incidentally, I made an addition to my 4:34 comment just as you were posting this and might not have noticed the addition regarding Benjamin Chertoff in the second paragraph.

  19. 19
    Liberal Journal says:

    Wow you actually tried to do some critical thinking. Way to go, now try the other side.

    That’s what they claim. But Benjamin’s mother says he knew Michael.

    I can keep going all day. Want to try to take on the other claims or are you going to hide behind Occam’s Razor, which states that you don’t have to do any critical thinking, and just listen to the few sources you choose to listen to?

  20. 20
    Ron Chusid says:

    There’s no point in wasting time when you can make up your own facts.

    Benjamin’s mother is on record as saying they are related, not that they knew each other.

  21. 21
    Ron Chusid says:

    I should add that the only evidence that his mother even said they were related came from a source which supported 9/11 conspiracy theories, so even that might not actually be true.

  22. 22
    Liberal Journal says:

    The reporter said it was in response to a question of whether they knew each other.

    But even assuming for a moment that it was ambiguous, then you must look at the piece in light of the fact that it was filled with straw men arguments and lies such as that 1 jet had been scrambled in an emergency situation prior to 9/11 when it was more like 60+ times. Isn’t his older cousin deriving some benefit?

    And I’m sure you were flabbergasted to find out that an esteemed Popular Mechanics debunkarama was penned by a 25 year old related to a high ranking government official. You still haven’t apologized for your poor research in failing to uncover that. Neither have you sources which oppose your viewpoint.

    Now, you’re going to end the debate now only having attempted to address one claim. What about WTC 7? What about the eyewitness testimony that was discounted? Funding by Pakistan’s ISI that was discounted? Cheney’s statement? Rumsfeld’s whereabouts? The fact that the US government was running identical hijacking drills when the hijacking occurred and in London they were conducting bus bombing drills when the bus bomb occurred? Do you think if this was a criminal investigation these things wouldn’t have been turned over and over?

  23. 23
    Ron Chusid says:

    As I’ve said, this is pointless.

    You’ll continue to come up unsubstantiated claims such as that Benjamin Chertoff knew Michael Chertoff and was trying to help him. I’ll point out that this is something invented by conspiracy theorists. You’ll continue to insist that such claims are true.

    Same is true of all the other unsubstantiated claims. As long conspiracy theorists fail to distinguish fact from fiction there is no common ground for discussion. Those interested in the facts can refer to the links I’ve posted, as well as plenty of other information around.

    I certainly will not apologize for responding to your fictions with facts, regardless of how much you wish to discount them.

  24. 24
    Liberal Journal says:

    I have provided at least 15 issues on this page, you only have addressed one, which you can only limit to an assertion that they were related — you can’t call it a fiction. You have debunked the ‘conspiracy theorists’ because you have only honestly attempted to assess one claim.

    It’s chic for you to pretend that conspiracy theorists, who are really concerned citizens, are in some way hypnotized, while you with your poor research are the ‘debunker’, but in fact a ‘denier.’ You have exposed your lack of knowledge on the subject, and you know it, as well as your willfulness in being ignorant on opposing ideas and yes, facts. Not unlike a certain President of ours.

    You consider your claims facts and my claims fiction (does this comport with Occam’s Razor, I’m wondering). You have demonized anyone who challenges your belief on this a ‘conspiracy theorist’ which is not unlike a Global Warming denier clinging to his or her set of facts, unwilling to look at the vast amount of controverting evidence, and resorting to name calling like ‘tree huggers’ or ‘ecoterrorists’.

    Here are some links for your readers:

    9/11 Truth

    Scholars for 9/11 Truth & Justice

    The Jersey Widows

    911 Research

  25. 25
    Ron Chusid says:

    Ok, you’ve presented some links. Readers can decide which is more plausible. My bet is that the weakness of your arguments and your reliance upon ad hominen attacks will be sufficient to convince those who do not already subscribe to your conspiracy theories of the weakness of your viewpoint.

    Otherwise there is no point in this discussion. Reality is not determined by arguing back and forth on blogs. While those who propose such conspiracy theories beleive that if they can come up with a convincing argument it must be true, there is no validity for either this type of logic or the beliefs which come from it.

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