No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle unless the testimony be of such a kind that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish...
David Hume, On Miracles
This essay is certain to make many readers very angry with me. But ya gotta do what ya gotta do.
Last month I was a guest on a progressive radio talk show. About half-way through the hour-long program, the conversation was going well, until I expressed some doubts about the "controlled demolition " hypotheses of the collapse of the World Trade Center. That comment sealed the fate of the remainder of the hour, as it prompted an unvarying succession of angry rebuttals and a deluge of alleged "facts " supporting the view that the WTC towers were brought down by pre-set demolition charges, and that the Pentagon was not struck by a Boeing 747. And so I felt obliged to take a closer look at the theories and evidence regarding the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
No wait, that 's absurd. Of course it took place! So what we are left with is an abundance of contrary claims, unconfirmable "evidence " leading to utter confusion and no firm conclusions -- none, that is, regarding the World Trade Center attack. The Pentagon attack, however, should present little doubt: American Airlines Flight 77 struck the building.
The Evidence Problem:
Until recently, the public could rely on published evidence from government scientists and government-supported scientific research, as well as reputable media. But no more. We now know that the Bush Administration alters or withholds scientific reports to conform to policy, dogma and pre-conceptions. The Bushites also lie outright in defense of their policies. As for the media, even that most reliable and respected "newspaper of record," The New York Times, has become a font of misinformation, including the Clinton Whitewater non-scandal, false and misleading reports of the Florida 2000 vote count, and Judith Miller 's notorious reports of Saddam 's alleged WMDs.
Even so, the critical reader should be capable of identifying and dismissing bizarre assertions, such as Morgan Reynold 's claim that no aircraft struck the twin towers on 9/11 this in spite of thousands of eye-witnesses and a vast number of photo and video images.
The same critical reader can identify and set aside pronouncements that are devoid of supporting evidence, such as this narrative by James Fetzer of the fate of American Airlines Flight 77 which, if it didn 't hit the Pentagon, as Fetzer contends, must be somehow accounted for:
Flight 77 went off the radar screen in the vicinity of the Kentucky/Ohio border. This whole dotted path [on a map displayed by Fetzer] is a hypothetical or an imaginary path that the plane may have taken, but it was not recorded on radar. And my belief is in fact the plane actually went down in the Kentucky Ohio vicinity... Then a plane, probably a n A-13 Sky Warrior was substituted here very close to Washington DC.
Fetzer gives us no citation of the alleged disappearance from the radar screen. (I have heard nothing about this "radar disappearance." Have you?) Then it gets much worse: "hypothetical or imaginary path, " "may have taken, " "my belief. " Not a shred of evidence is offered in support of this fantasy.
The World Trade Center
Much of the "evidence " presented by the WTC conspiracy theorists is demonstrably false, fallacious or irrelevant. For example:
* "The temperatures were not hot enough to melt steel. " True but irrelevant. This is a persistent criticism by the CT. However, the OV does not claim that the steel melted at the impact points (melting temperature, 2700 degreesF), only that it was weakened. The temperature sufficient to weaken steel by fifty-percent (1170 degreesF) was well within the range of the burning jet fuel and office supplies.
* "The debris was quickly collected without inspection and shipped off to Asia for recycling. " False. It was relocated to a collection site at Staten Island, where it was examined by forensic engineers, and where personal effects were identified. (Here, here, and here are three of the 54,000 Google hits from a search for "World Trade Center " and "Staten Island " and "Debris ")
* "No steel frame building has ever collapsed because of a fire. " Another "fact " repeatedly asserted by CT-s. Irrelevant, even if true. The WTC towers were brought down by a combination of fire and structural damage caused by the impact from the planes. (The collapse of WTC Building #7 was not caused by either fire or impact from planes -- a problem for the CV which we will discuss later).
Now look very carefully at these images of the collapse of the WTC towers, here (north tower, 35:20. 36:40), here (south tower, 5:37), and here. (The numbers in parenthesis indicate the time locations in the videos). Notice that the collapse begins at the points of impact. Below the points of impact, the towers remain in place as the disintegration proceeds from the top down.