Tag: 9/11 Truth

An inside job?

News hit me earlier today (because I’ve been very lazy in keeping up to date with my correspondence) about a recent article proposing that the destructions of the Twin Towers and Building 7 on September the 11th, 2001, were the result of a controlled demolition. What makes this article notable (since 9/11 Inside Job hypotheses are not notable in my line of work) is that it was published in Europhysics News, which – while not a magazine that everyone knows about – is prestigious enough to cause waves. Even the editors are aware that they are publishing something outside their usual mix of news stories and research, adding the following caveat to the article:

This feature is somewhat different from our usual purely scientific articles, in that it contains some speculation. However, given the timing and the importance of the issue, we consider that this feature is sufficiently technical and interesting to merit publication for our readers. Obviously, the content of this article is the responsibility of the authors.

And who are the authors? Well, Steven Jones (the most notable name), Robert Korol, Anthony Szamboti, and Ted Walter. Quite the collection ((Interestingly enough, Walter is the director of strategy and development for Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth; the rest of the writers have some background in engineering, whilst Walter’s background is public policy. I’m thinking he actually wrote the article (thus the by-line) or he’s been added to for citation’s sake.))

The piece itself is a fairly standard ‘The official theory about the destruction of the Twin Towers and Building 7 looks flakey; the best explanation is that it was a controlled demolition (something denied by the official theory)’. It certainly does not say anything particularly new or exciting; if you’ve read blogposts about the controlled demolition hypothesis, then you’ve read what the authors chose to present. What is curious or fascinating about the piece is its place of publication. Europhysics News is not a clearing house of matters conspiratorial (like, say, the Veterans Today website, or InfoWars). It’s a ‘proper’ magazine, with a circulation of 250000 actual print subscribers. Thus the noteworthiness. Thus the caveat at the beginning of the article.

Indeed, if one were to be critical, you’d accuse the authors of a few pieces of sleight of hand throughout the rather slight piece. For example, they talk about the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) report about the collapse of the Twin Towers and Building 7 as being largely the result of fires, noting that no other large building has collapsed in a similar way prior or since. The way they introduce the issue in the article, you would think the fires weren’t caused by two massive airliners flying into the towers, and the idea said plane impacts both caused damaged to the fire-cladding on the affected floors, as well as causing some structural damage is really only half-hearted admitted later on in the paper.

Then there’s this:

[A] growing number of architects, engineers, and scientists are unconvinced by that explanation.

That explanation being their presentation of NIST’s conclusions (which is already a fairly suspect disingenuous portrayal). But, really, what does a ‘growing number’ mean here? Surely they do not mean ‘growing number’ in the sense that ‘More and more people have joined Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth because that’s meaningless. Unless they can show that the growing number of dissenters from the official theory outpaces the number of adherents to the orthodoxy, or that such dissenters now make up a plurality of views on the matter, the fact people keep joined some organisation tells us very little. It’s a nice rhetorical move, but little else.

Then there’s Jones’ pet theory, the presence of nano-thermite in the debris of Ground Zero. The article states:

Meanwhile, unreacted nano-thermitic material has since been discovered in multiple independent WTC dust samples.

However, that’s a really quite contentious claim, and it’s a recognised controversy within the 9/11 Truth movement. None other than James Fetzer has argued that adherents of the nano-thermite ‘charge’ might well be overstating their case.

Still, the most interesting part of the article has to be the call to arms for an(other) investigation into the destruction of the Twin Towers and Building 7.

Given the nature of the collapse, any investigation adhering to the scientific method should have seriously considered the controlled demolition hypothesis, if not started with it. Instead, NIST (as well as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which conducted a preliminary study prior to the NIST investigation) began with the predetermined conclusion that the collapse was caused by fires.

Yes, and no. There was an obvious (and I would say primary and plausible) hypothesis, which is that the destruction of the Twin Towers was likely due to the impact of the planes, and the resulting damage. The idea that widespread fires lead/contributed to the collapse came out of initial explorations of that thesis.

Now, should NIST have at least entertained the idea that the collapse was the result of demolition charges? Maybe. Perhaps you could run a line where you accept the official theory about who caused the destruction of the Twin Towers and Building 7, but think that the apparent cause of the collapse of the buildings – the impact of the planes – was a cover for setting off charges in the building. In this version of the story you don’t need to even suggest it was an inside job; all you have to do is say ‘The collapse of those structures looks weird, so I wonder if there was anything else going on…’

Now, I feel I must note that the authors of the Europhysics News piece do not advance any claim of conspiracy. They do not insist the destruction of the Twin Towers has been covered up. They do not make accusations about certain parties having an agenda. All they do is argue that the official theory about the collapse of the Twin Towers and Building 7 is at odds with their expert opinions. It is both a very measured piece in this regard, and somewhat odd. We all know where this argument is meant to lead us, but the authors do not seem to want to admit to it.

Still, I can see why NIST chose not to explore a controlled demolition story at all; they had a proximate cause (the impacts) which seems plausibly-related to the event in question. Why cast about for another explanation, especially if the first one bears fruit upon examination? You don’t need to think NIST were incompetent or negligent in their investigation (or that there was a conspiracy to cover something up). They simply focussed their attention on the most plausible hypothesis available to them at the time. ((A hypothesis, one should add, that was considered plausible by a lot of people at the time. ‘Growing number’ or not, the official theory has a lot of supporters.))

Still, this gets into the interesting aspect of the ethics of investigation into claims of conspiracy (my current project in Bucharest). Should there have been another committee, charged with exploring the alternatives? On some level it seems ludicrous to suggest a different conspiracy here. On another, if there are experts raising questions, surely a parallel investigation was – or is still – warranted?

I’m not going to answer that question. At least, not just yet. This post is long enough as it stands. But it’s an interesting question, and 9/11 might well be the best contemporary example (feel free to chime in with even more recent examples). Given the scale of what happened on the day, let alone what happened afterwards, surely asking ‘Was this quite what it seemed?’ is a question some people not only should be asking, but should be able to ask without public opprobrium.

Episode 66 – Whatever happened to Building 7?

The scale of the conspiracy

PeterC, over in the comments of my review of Max Hill’s “To the Ends of the Earth” suggested that contemporary archaeologists in Aotearoa me Te Wai Pounamu (New Zealand) dance to the tune of their political (and funding) masters, which is why there is no academic support for the theses of Max Hill, Martin Doutreé and the like. That got me to thinking: if we were to treat that claim about the existence of a conspiracy seriously, how big would the conspiracy in question actually be?

Think of it this way: Pacific archaeology is not an entirely New Zealand-based concern. Whilst New Zealand archaeologists do an awful lot of our local archaeology, they are just part of the wider archaeological community interested in the history and pre-history of the Pacific. Quite a lot of Pacific archaeology is performed by Americans, the French and Germans, in part because each of these nations have a history of colonial activity in the Pacific.

So, if there is a conspiracy to hide the real history of the Pacific and to deny the existence of some other people living in or passing through the Polynesian archipelago, it must be a pretty big one that encompasses the research output of not just the New Zealand university and research community but extends to the university and research communities of Europe and the Americas ((Truth be told, quite a lot of New Zealand archaeology is undertaken by people who not only did their undergraduate and post-graduate studies overseas but are, shock horror, foreign nationals (and not necessarily the kind the GSCB is allowed to spy on).)). What possible rationale is there for such a large-scale, encompassing conspiracy?

You might concede that maybe someone, in a position of political power, decided one day that we should rewrite Aotearoa me Te Wai Pounamu’s history in order to appease some group of Māori (even though I think this is very unlikely it is still a possibility) but why would that decision be in anyway binding on the research outputs of archaeologists and historians elsewhere, especially since these reports are perfect congruent with the archaeological research that is produced elsewhere in Polynesia? Why do American archaeologists write site reports and make inferences which look eerily similar to the site reports of French and New Zealand archaeologists? Surely, if there is a conspiracy, we should see a divergence of views between these sets of researchers?

Now, maybe the large-scale claim of conspiracy is justified: I did say that these nations have a history of colonialism, so maybe they are part of a “post-colonial guilt party” conspiracy, or the indigenous peoples of this place (generally speaking) have some kind of hold over the governments of these nations, but that just seems unlikely. The attitudes of France, America and New Zealand with respect to the indigenous peoples of the Pacific really couldn’t be that different (look at the poor state of native rights in Haiwaii) and so it just doesn’t follow that American archaeologists doing Pacific archaeology funded by American universities and NGOs would be hiding evidence of some non-Polynesian, pre-cursor people in the way that Doutree and company seem to allege.

You might also, if we’re going to treat this thesis with more respect than it deserves, argue that the decision was made by, say, the American establishment and we’re just following the dictates of a world superpower. Once again, you have to give a reason as to why, say, America would want to pervert history and produce archaeological disinformation, especially given, as previously noted, just how badly off the Hawaiians are (and let’s not forget the plight of the Native Americans).

Both of these rationales also fall foul of a basic truth about research communities; governments set the funding levels and they certainly mangle research outputs by overfunding some types of degrees and underfunding others. but they don’t control who researches what and they certainly don’t set up the terms of such enquiries, let alone decide what conclusions are allowed to be drawn. Certainly, many of Ansell’s fellow travellers complain about the kind of research that goes on in the academic sector and how good it is that sensible Ministers in our present Government ignore such policy advice and use common sense instead. It seems that the kind of people who are likely to come up with a conspiracy about there being an agenda to hide the existence of a pre-Māori people want to have it both ways when it comes to condemning the research outputs of our universities.

The other problem with this claim about large-scale conspiracy in the world of archaeology is that, surely, you would expect someone to buck the system and release evidence of both the hidden history and the conspiracy itself. This is a common argument against the 9/11 Truth Movement (and, increasingly, being employed to show that the claims of a “CIA/Swedish honeytrap” against Julian Assange seems very unlikely): the lack of countering evidence to the well-accepted or official theory seems to suggest that the theory is plausible. Now, any holder of a conspiracy theory which claims that well-accepted or official theory is based on disinformation, etc. will point towards people like Richard Gage (with respect to the 9/11 Truth Movement) and Martin Doutré (with respect to the Celtic New Zealand thesis) and say “But, looksy, there is evidence to the contrary and these brave researchers are willing to put up with shoddy ad hominem attacks and ridicule to get the truth out there!”

But, once again, this seems to present a problem of scale: Doutré and Gage are not just dismissed by part of the academy but, rather, all of it worldwide. Doutré and Hill’s respective theses are not just considered silly and vapid in Aotearoa me Te Wai Pounamu but elsewhere as well, so we’re back to the “Everyone (else) is in on the conspiracy” angle which, as I’ve shown, is already problematic.

But it gets worse. Doutré and Hill’s radical pre-histories of Polynesia is based upon not just archaeological claims but also claims based in comparative linguistics, oral histories, ethnography, epigraphy and (to name a few). In each of these fields, his arguments have been picked on by someone with appropriate expertise who are largely in agreement with the rest of their peers. If there is a conspiracy in existence, it’s not just a conspiracy in the worldwide archaeological community but, rather, a conspiracy of every academic everywhere ((I would love to see the agenda for the meetings that set up such a conspiracy. I’ve been in academic staff meetings. They are not pretty. No one seems to be able to agree with anyone.)).

Once again, this is a potentially huge conspiracy that people like PeterC are envisioning, and given the different research funding models worldwide, the organisation and control of this conspiracy is likely not to be governmental (unless you believe there exists a New World Order/One World Government who have, as one of their aims, the promotion of both false history and indigenous rights) but, rather, academic.

Now, admittedly, people like John Ansell and Martin Doutré will agree with this and say “Well, we’ve been saying the academic world has been taken over my Marxists for ages now!” but a) it’s not clear that Ansell and Doutreé know what Marxism, as a mode of academic pursuit, looks like and b) it’s not clear that Marxism is the most popular mode of academic pursuit at the moment any way ((That being said, no matter what I say next, Ansell and Doutré will likely claim we’re all “closet Marxists” who are either unaware we are Marxists or are afraid to admit to being Marxists because we might suffer the old bit of biffo by the common person on the street.)).

More importantly, though, who is directing us academics to pursue research in a Marxist way?

Ansell, PeterC, Doutré and company will say “That’s where the funding comes from” but is it? Sure, New Zealand’s university sector is funded by central government, so maybe there are Marxists in the Ministry of Education, but what about America? There are lots of American researchers who work in Pacific archaeology, linguistics, history and other related disciplines and their university sector is definitely not funded by the Federal Government (there is very little publicly funded research in the USA) so if the conspiracy is based around funding, it’s a conspiracy where either the international (particularly American) academic sector has undue sway over individual government funding bodies like we find in New Zealand or small countries like our own somehow have sway over the international research funding community.

Both theories seem unlikely, I must confess.

There is, of course, another option. Perhaps, just perhaps, the radical theories of the Richard Gages and Martin Doutré’s of this world are considered lacking in academic merit because, well, such theories are lacking in the kinds of credentials a largely independent academic sector expect to find. No need to posit a conspiracy; outlier research like that found in the 9/11 Truth Movement or the Celtic New Zealand crowd might just be examples of pseudo-research.

However, I don’t think that conclusion, however likely it appears to be, will be accepted by people like PeterC.

Truth in Wellington

Well, I’ve booked my tickets to fly down to Wellington to see Richard Gage relate his particular Conspiracy Theory about 9/11.

I’m both excited and perplexed; I’m funding this trip myself, and as an impoverished PhD student that does mean a slice of money. In that respect I have to wonder ‘Why?’ Why spend money going down to watch a Conspiracy Theorist at work?

Well, the answer to that is the excitement. Several commentators on Conspiracy Theory culture have noted that Conspiracy Theories seem to be mostly oral, or, probably more accurately, Conspiracy Theories seem more plausible when they are presented orally rather than when they are written down. This doesn’t suggest that the arguments are somehow magically better when they are spoken but rather that, in such presentations, with the charged rhetoric and the shout outs of support from the audience, you can see why people might find it all very convincing.

That’s the theory, anyway.

I’ve not had much of a chance to see a Conspiracy Theorist in action and this event should be filled with them. I shall, I must admit, be somewhat incognito; I don’t really think I’ll be able to summon the ultimate counter-argument to Gage and his theories; the environment won’t be conducive and I’m far more interested in the swing voters than the hard-core believers of either stripe. More importantly, I would like to see how the believers react and play; I’m going more as an amateur sociologist or anthropologist than I am as an epistemologist.

So, Wellington. Land of good coffee, great vegan cake and Truth in Architecture. What more does a boy need? ((Even more cake, that’s what.))