The 9/11 conspiracy theorists are at it again


I’ve been angered and sickened to see so many 9/11 conspiracy theorists poking their heads out of the woodwork with last weekend’s 20th anniversary of the tragedy.  No matter how many scientific, evidence-based, practical explanations are offered, they still insist on their nonsensical speculation that the World Trade Center towers were brought down by explosives planted by some nefarious insider, or that other buildings were dynamited to hide evidence, or that the Pentagon was not hit by an aircraft, or whatever.

It’s all stuff and nonsense, of course.  I’ve come to use these conspiracy theories as a litmus test for whether someone’s trustworthy or not.  If I hear a single word out of them in support of such lies, I know they’re not worth my time or attention.  To quote one of the 9/11 rescuers who survived, “they’re looney tunes”.

In case you ever have to debunk their nonsense (I suggest not arguing with them openly, because they won’t listen to even the most scientific of evidence – they prefer not to think), I recommend the outstanding analysis published by Popular Mechanics addressing the conspiracy theories.  It’s worth bookmarking it for future reference.  Here’s just one example of their thoroughness.

CLAIM: “We have been lied to,” announces the website “The first lie was that the load of fuel from the aircraft was the cause of structural failure. No kerosene fire can burn hot enough to melt steel.” The posting is entitled “Proof Of Controlled Demolition At The WTC.”

FACT: Jet fuel burns at 800 to 1500 degrees Fahrenheit, not hot enough to melt steel (2750 degrees Fahrenheit). However, experts agree that for the towers to collapse, their steel frames didn’t need to melt, they just had to lose some of their structural strength—and that required exposure to much less heat. “I have never seen melted steel in a building fire,” says retired New York deputy fire chief Vincent Dunn, author of The Collapse Of Burning Buildings: A Guide To Fireground Safety. “But I’ve seen a lot of twisted, warped, bent and sagging steel. What happens is that the steel tries to expand at both ends, but when it can no longer expand, it sags and the surrounding concrete cracks.”

“Steel loses about 50 percent of its strength at 1100 [degrees Fahrenheit],” notes senior engineer Farid Alfawak-hiri of the American Institute of Steel Construction. “And at 1800 [degrees] it is probably at less than 10 percent.” NIST also believes that a great deal of the spray-on fireproofing insulation was likely knocked off the steel beams that were in the path of the crashing jets, leaving the metal more vulnerable to the heat.

But jet fuel wasn’t the only thing burning, notes Forman Williams, a professor of engineering at the University of California, San Diego, and one of seven structural engineers and fire experts that Popular Mechanics consulted. He says that while the jet fuel was the catalyst for the WTC fires, the resulting inferno was intensified by the combustible material inside the buildings, including rugs, curtains, furniture and paper. NIST reports that pockets of fire hit 1832 degrees Fahrenheit.

“The jet fuel was the ignition source,” Williams tells Popular Mechanics. “It burned for maybe 10 minutes, and [the towers] were still standing in 10 minutes. It was the rest of the stuff burning afterward that was responsible for the heat transfer that eventually brought them down.”

There’s much more at the link.  Very useful and highly recommended reading.  The article contains links to other articles and essays addressing different aspects of the 9/11 tragedy, which are also worth following.



  1. These people are proof to me that most not only have common sense, but don't know how anything in the physical and operational world works. To Wit:

    The WTC had an exoskeleton. What firmed it was the steel trussing inbetween. Like the article says, not melt – weaken. Anyone that has forged or played with metal understands this concept. FFS, I had a grill collapse on a grease fire. Steel weakens, structure fails. End of story. It was the exoskelton design that made collapse possible.

    Operationally, ever seen a show on how they demo buildings? Riddle me this; how are the miles of detcord, explosives, and cuts in the strutural steel going to go unnoticed for the weeks and months it woud've taken to get them in place?

    You know the doofus corollary to Murphy's Law? The bigger the project, the higher the doofus ratio. Someone would screw up, someone would squeal. Contrary to shows like the Blacklist, The gubmint doofus ratio is in the redline. You need a lot of very skilled construction workers to play along. Yeah…they'll do that. Sure.

    Building 7 – Also no building can withstand tons of debris falling on it. They weren't designed for top loading, or even massive damage to the sides. Some couldn't handle the extra load on their roofs, others were damaged so badly they had to be demoed.

    There's video. I used to live in DC and had friends and family that either saw it happen, or worked for first responders. One dude I knew was on washington Blvd and the plane flew right over his head. My brother in law was in crystal city (across 395 from the pentagon), happened to see the plane hit from the conference room window.

    What we got here is a pandemic of dunning-kruger syndrome.

  2. As much as the "truthers" lead me to despair, ultimately their BS was inconsequential. The BIG lies that came from 9/11 – "We need to invade Iraq", "Mission Accomplished", "We can build a nation at gunpoint", "Flushing another billion down the hole will TOTALLY fix the debacle" – were far more insidious.

  3. About the only 9/11 conspiracy theories that I pay attention to, is the possibility that the FBI, CIA, etc. purposely let it happen. Heck, after all that has come to light in the last few years about how FBI informants, and under cover agents, have instigated domestic "terror attacks", it wouldn't surprise me to find out something similar happened with the 9/11 attacks.

  4. "I've been angered and sickened to see so many 9/11 conspiracy theorists poking their heads out of the woodwork with last weekend's 20th anniversary of the tragedy."


    I've given up trying to understand their motivations; money, FUD, sensationalism, ignorance ??

  5. You only melt steel to do a casting, heating it far less
    makes it pliable.

    I've made steel parts by heating them to dull red, Thats
    about 1000-1100F and its much more easily bent! I've seen
    houses that had fires and the steel 10 inch I-beam used for
    the main floor support even if the house is salvageable
    that beam will have sagged a foot or more and is a must
    be replaced item.

    Also besides the jet fuel, aluminum and magnesium used in
    aircraft construction burns hot as well. Takes a bit to
    light it but once going its hard to stop. Look at the
    inside of the plane there is much plastic used. Add to
    the oxygen system to big enough to improve the heat of
    the initial kick and its going to be hot.

    Yes, the conspiracy theory clans are bonkers. Its the
    price of a free society. Doesn't mean we cannot point
    and laugh at them!


  6. They should see the pictures of the tankers that got hit by missiles and burned. Crude oil fires caused the steel to twist and collapse.

  7. Anyone posting links to "truther" disinformation about the 9/11 attacks will have their comments deleted. I'll have none of that trash littering my blog, thank you very much!

  8. Ray-so cal:

    All the 100's of millions of vehicles and planes with wiring in their gasoline! tanks that never blew up, and they push the idea that a kerosene tank does? Yeah, right.

  9. BRM: The election was stolen despite what the mainstream says. Don't believe the official story.
    Also BRM: The 9/11 shall not be questioned. You should believe what the mainstream says.

  10. I had heard that the insulation on those beams was asbestos, and so was removed to satisfy some government regulation or other banning asbestos insulation. Of course, if you heat a steel beam under load to 1100° and it'll buckle. And to make matters worse, the towers were built like big chimneys, so that there was PLENTY of air to let that kerosene burn HOT.

  11. Don't forget that the official story claims a conspiracy by a very physically ill man in a cave and 19 genius pilots from a hostile country….and we all trust official stories, right?

  12. A substantial chunk of Peter's readers (of this website and his books) are 9/11 Truthers — probably more than their share of the general population's. Calling them out, as he does here, will cost him. But you can't please everyone, and you can't win 'em all.

  13. @froginblender: Facts are stubborn things. When one confronts them head-on, they speak for themselves. Conspiracy theories can only ask "What if?", and have no science to back them up. That's why I'm so grateful to Popular Mechanics for their long series of articles explaining exactly what happened on 9/11, and why the conspiracy theories are hokum.

    Still, as you say, there are always those who will never be convinced by facts. As Mussorgsky112 says, that includes those who ignore the facts about last year's election and insist that they were valid, fair and untainted by fraud.


  14. @T Town:

    Somewhere in the vast apparatus of the bureaucratic state there must have been someone charged with collating and evaluating reports of terror threats coming in from the various agencies and deciding whether to escalate them up to the top level. If that person slow-walked the reports, it would be difficult if not impossible to know whether he or she did so from overwork, incompetence, fear of being accused of "racial profiling" … or malice.

  15. The federal government's story on is total BS and only a retard could believe it. There are many unanswered questions given the wreckage at the site was hauled for scrap and never properly investigated for starters. I'm also supposed to believe the mostly Saudi hijackers got on these planes because of some imaginary lax security and flew them into a building with a minimum of piloting skills? The fact that NORAD failed to defend us because by happenstance they were having a drill which happened to simulate this very scenario? Or what about the recently new owner and his wife and others that he knew just happened at one time not to show up on that morning? Yes, what a coincidence!

    And, wait for it, the only way these incompetent agencies, over a dozen or more, were fooled by some ultra smart extremist with an axe to grind, is to destroy more of American civil liberties via the illegal PATRIOT act and the odious TSA. But hey, keep complaining about those lost rights.

    It's pretty bad that you have to insult Americans like me and millions of others that can find some legitimate issues with the federal narrative. I sure would like to see that plane that allegedly hit the Pentagon, and in the accounting department, where the night before Rumsfeld acknowledge that about $2 or trillion could not be accounted. But hey, I'm just a conspiracy theorist?

    "The 9/11 Truth movement was not created by bloggers ranting on their web sites. It was created by professional architects and engineers some of whom are known for having designed steel high rise buildings. It was created by distinguished scientists, such as University of Copenhagen nano-Chemist Niels Harrit who has 60 scientific papers to his credit and physicist Steven Jones. It was created by US Air Force pilots and commercial airline pilots who are expert at flying airplanes. It was created by firefighters who were in the twin towers and who personally heard and experienced numerous explosions including explosions in the sub-basements. It was created by members of 9/11 families who desire to know how such an improbable event as 9/11 could possibly occur."

  16. Popular Mechanics became a leftist propaganda rag about 20 years ago, so much of their reporting on things like this has no credibility with me.

    Maybe those rocket scientist at PM could do a line by line analysis of why this report is incorrect:

    If someone can show me any other cases of where these tall buildings were on fire and they collapse into their own footprint into dust, I would like to see it. There have been many high rise fires since then across the world, so anyone who thinks the fed's story is correct should be able to find me a number of recent examples to prove the theorist wrong.

  17. I was the Technical Safety Authority for a major oil company. My team managed major hazards for offshore platforms, and I can assure you that the amount of jet fuel on a 757 was more than sufficient to heat the structural steel to the point where it would lose integrity and fail to support the weight of the floors above. We were a little skeptical at first, but we dealt with these calcs all the time and some quick numbers showed that this was a very credible case. There may be questions about the hijacking and flight, but the physical effects of the hydrocarbon fire were perfectly reasonable.

  18. 9-11 stuff I wonder about is the Saudi Government Involvement

    There seems to have been a LOT more Saudi Government involvement then was officially noted 20 years ago. Since Biden wants to take the Saudis down a notch, I expect more details to be released.

    Another area that has been downplayed, as shown by ABC memory holing a 9-11 documentary, is how Clinton set the stage.

    The incredible corruption and stupidity in dealing with Afghanistan boggles my mind. The video of the art class in Afghanistan lecturing on a modern French artist with a urinal is unbelievable.

  19. Ed Hering – Post analysis showed that the fire insulation sprayed on all the steel structure worked very well.

    It also showed that the fire insulation sprayed on all the steel structure became crumbly and brittle after about 10 years.

    So the shock of a fully-loaded widebody, massing about twice or more than a 707 (which the building was supposedly designed to resist long enough for people to get out, assuming it was mostly empty) hitting at full speed in a shallow dive (rather than low landing speed which was assumed would be the speed of said mostly empty 707) basically broke loose all the fire insulation, thus exposing the beams.

    Fire insulation only works when it still covers what it is insulating.

    So, fully fueled widebody screeching in at 500-600mph, and, yeah, no recovery from that.

    Sadly, people were told to not evacuate either building until it was almost too late. Well, for those who weren't trapped above the fires.

  20. Ah, WTC 7. Why did it fall?

    Because big flaming chunks of both plane and building fell on it and punched through the roof, starting several slow blazes in the building.

    And then they lost water pressure.

    While the building was on fire.

    Then it got a punch sideways when both buildings punched it hard.

    Probably could have survived one, or the other, if the fire departments were able to concentrate on it and only it.

    By the time it fell, it was basically a 'Fukit' moment. Too much damage, too little ability to do anything positive to rescue it.

    Ever seen a building that has a slow burning fire in it left unstopped? Or a building that looks perfect after an earthquake but it isn't?

    Like, well, the Miami condo. Looked good, right up until it wasn't.

    What isn't surprising is that the whole complex was basically destroyed, considering the damage done.

    What is surprising is that anyone got out of those doomed buildings, or that so many did. That's what is the surprising thing, that so many survived.

  21. Just because it's a "conspiracy theory" doesn't mean you should dismiss it out of hand – that's just a label which is used against thought. Let's turn it around, after all, based on the offical information and what will be recorded in the history books, you're 100% a conspiracy theorist about the 2020 election Peter. How does that feel? All the "proof" says Biden was fairly elected. 20 years from now you'll most definitely be labeled a conspiracy theory nutjob.

    I recently read what's essentially a meta analysis from a fairly intelligent individual. It certainly made me think. I won't link to it lest my comment be deleted, but ask yourself cui bono?

  22. I remember how for many years is a tall building was on fire people would be concerned that it was about to collapse.

    In response to Old NFO, I would submit this video from what is most likely the first reporter on the scene at the Pentagon – CNN's Military Affairs correspondent Jamie McIntyre. He was able to inspect the scene directly where the firefighters were still working, and saw only small fragments with no identifiable components such as tail sections, wing sections etc.


  23. The reason the twin towers fell in the unusual way they did was because of the unusual way they were constructed. They were not a lattice grid of steel like a conventional highrise. The towers were basically an exoskeletal tube of steel, with a inner core containing the elevators, etc. The exterior tube had 80 percent of the vertical strength of the buildings. When the 20% core was compromised by the crashing aircraft, and the fires heated the steel to its yield point, everything fell down the 80% strength "tube". Video explaining some of the construction details:

  24. Never really believed that it was an inside job. Frankly, I don't think anyone in the W. Administration had the attention span to pull something like that off.

  25. Those of you who are surprised to not find recognizable aircraft structures at the Pentagon have not paid attention to any other aircraft crashes since jets started flying.

    A good description of what would be found is aluminum confetti, IF there was no corresponding fire resulting. The aircraft is almost entirely aluminum, with some magnesium, both of which burn quite well in a fuel fed fire. That fuel consists of the jet fuel (full tanks), plus a lot of the content of the offices in the impact zone.

    The only recognizable parts that might be found would be the jet engine internals and the landing gear assemblies. Hitting such a solid structure as that building at the speed that jet was moving would tend to break up the engines to a large extent, and bust up the landing gear and wheels to their component pieces. All of which leads to smaller chunks to stumble over.

    IIRC, there were a couple frames of video from a surveillance camera that show a very large object streaking across the grass to hit the building. That object was much too big to be a missile that would be flying a nap of the earth profile.

    It's been a long time since I've seen the crash site of flt 93(?) that crashed into a field in PA, and there was nothing resembling a plane there, just luggage pieces scattered around a smoking hole. That field would be solid but soft compared to the Pentagon structure. The Pentagon was constructed to be a very solid building, with a huge amount of concrete and stone. NOT a normal building.

  26. A bit of digging should turn up pictures of "Shermans Bow Ties", the result of stacking railroad ties up and placing steel rails on top. This fire causes the rails to deform to the point that they're no longer usable as railroad rails. Shermans army did this on his (in)famous march through Georgia, which is still a touchy subject there.

  27. For me it's not what physically happened but why. The trillions missing presser by Rummy the day before, the Towers purchase and insurance, the select people just not going in that day, the 20 years and trillions in constrained no win warfare, the baboons in charge of it all all buddy buddy after, Osama always one step ahead, dumped at sea then the Team mostly eliminated, no actions againt the Saudis,just on and on. It smells. Badly.
    (B7? I always thought, 'two 110 story buildings weighing millions of pounds impacting the the ground across the hollow street…surprised other buildings didn't fall, too.' As stated above some had to be demo'd later).
    What the powers that be did after just seemed wrong all around. Power grabs etc.
    No will to actually win. They made the idiots theories possible by doing so many useless things, the mind boggles. They were actually more worried about "muslim backlash" than the fact we were just attacked by muslims.
    A couple of dozen SLBMs with W-8s on 9-12-2001 was what should have been the response. Wouldn't be any conspiracy theories after that(maybe, most of these people are truly nuts).
    There is 40 plus years of BS from before and after that just don't add up and I don't think we will ever know the extent of the BS or ever get any reasonable answers for the failings of all involved.

  28. Some years ago, a gasoline tanker truck was stopped under a bridge in Houston due to traffic congestion. An automobile crashed into the tanker and ignited the fuel. The gasoline burned hot enough to deform the bridge beams (solid steel). The bridge did not collapse but the bridge was deformed to the point that it had to be replaced.

    There was a forest fire in Bastrop county some years ago. The heat from burning wood completely deformed the road side metal barriers that were installed to keep cars from careening off of the roadway.

    You do not have to melt the steel to have it deform and/or fail. You only have to heat it enough to make it malleable.

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