Debunking the "9/11 Truth" Movement Claims

Unfortunately, I've been quite silent about "9/11 was an inside job" claims from the "9/11 truthers," but I no longer feel that I can be because I've read a portion of a book debunking the conspiracy theory (that is used below) and have watched several skeptical videos. The idea that 9/11 was an inside job undermines our government, promotes un-critical thinking, and promotes credulity. We have an official explanation for 9/11, no evidence of explosives via the seismographs that would detect them, and no good reason to believe that there was a conspiracy.

I don't have any specific emotional attachment to this issue like many military personnel, firefighters, victims' families, etc do. I'm also not working for the government in some sort of cover-up. I'm just trying to debunk conspiracy arguments here and promote critical thinking. As always, I try to keep my beliefs away from discussions and believe whatever the evidence points to. We should hold this position in all areas of life and put our beliefs on the table for examination. I'm willing to change any and all of my beliefs provided that the evidence comes in to change them because the truth is more important than comfort or whatever else.

I counter some claims from a discussion on Facebook (they are in quotes) and raise various counter-arguments with help of Theodore Schick's "How to Think About Weird Things: Critical Thinking for a New Age" book that I highly, highly recommend which includes information from this article from an expert in demolitions. I'm no veteran to the 9/11 arguments, but I'll give it a shot regardless. I paraphrase information from pages 280 to 287 from Schick's book below in addition to my own thoughts.

Here we go.

"Just a few days ago a news story was released involving the thermite, the highly explosive material, found in the dust."

There is no evidence to suggest that theramite was found in the dust. If you have the story, please link it. There's no reason to go much further with that until we have the evidence (There can be other objections if it were there, but let's start small).

The Towers' collapse did not look like explosive demolitions. Blasting engineers, since the 1800s, used gravity to maximize the force of explosions, thus they concentrate on the lower levels of the buildings instead of a top-down method. Towers 1 and 2 do not show "failure" from the lowest floors. The buildings fall precisely where the planes struck.

"Explosions were reported by survivors in the basement of the twin towers before the planes even hit."

This is a personal experience claim that is highly dubious. Regardless, many might have heard >loud noises<, but this doesn't mean that there were explosives and it doesn't refute the idea that there is no evidence for explosives being there. Many eyewitnesses (6 million followers), for example, have claimed to experience miracles from an Indian Guru Satya Sai Baba and have signed testimonies that he can perform miracles. He is described by his devotees as an avatar, godman, spiritual teacher, and miracle worker. He has said that he is the reincarnation of the fakir and saint, Sai Baba of Shirdi. His biographer, Easwaramma, described him as being born of immaculate conception. She relates, "I had dreamt of Sathya Narayana Deva and he cautioned me that I should not be frightened if something happened to me through the Will of God. That morning when I was at the well drawing water, a big ball of blue light came rolling towards me and I fainted and fell. I felt it glided into me". Sathya Sai Baba confirmed this during a 2003 birthday party. When he had first announced that he was a reincarnation of a saint, the people asked for jasmine flowers...when the flowers were dropped, they spelled out his name and from then on, he was said to have been a saint. He has made various public appearances in which we can now see his reported miracles. His followers believe that he is a saint, we have eyewitness testimony of followers, and actual video footage of these miracles. Some miracles include materializing jewelry, conjuring ash, levitation, turning water into gasoline, and controlling the weather. Regardless of this eyewitness testimony and the six million people, there's no good reason to believe their claims. People can easily be fooled and in this case, they have been. You can watch Sai Baba's videos on Youtube and come up with naturalistic explanations.

(read more about Sai Baba in my old Miracles post)

Eyewitness testimony isn't a good reason to believe a claim when we have great reasons to doubt. We need more than that.

Anyway, all seismograph readings of the towers indicate a single level of gradual ascending and descending vibration for wtc 1, 2, and 7. Since no sudden or independent spikes on the readings were recorded, we have very good reason to suggest that there was no explosion. A demolition that was powerful enough to defeat steel columns would have been detected on the seismographs.

Also, no evidence of explosives were found.

"Building 7 pancaked controlled demolition style with free fall effect while buildings with greater damage, closer to the towers did not."

The buildings actually didn't fall straight down, but rather followed the paths of least resistance (and there was great resistance). When the impact floors of the towers failed, the upper sections of the towers tilted while collapsing downward. Debris rained down on several blocks around the site. WTC7 and other buildings to the north were impacted by great amounts of debris - the effects responsible for fires. A small amount of structural support debris landed straight down making this event very different than a planned demolition.

"The only two examples in history of two steel skyscrapers crumbling to the ground they way they did... was the twin towers"

Many steel structures have collapsed due to fire. The idea that no other buildings crumbled the way they did, even if this is true but it doesn't matter if it is, does not mean that this collapse was impossible. Each building failure on 9/11 displayed characteristics that are very different.

The towers were brought down because of burning jet fuel, not a demolition. The people who are best qualified to determine whether explosives were used are people who do controlled demolitions for a living...and there is no demolition expert who claims that the buildings were the product of a demolition. Although the collapse may look like it was the result of a demolition, our eyes are very untrained to analyze these things because we're not experts and appearances may be deceiving.

The 9/11 conspiracy theory has little explanatory power because it is less simple, is less conservative, has less scope, and is less fruitful than the official view.

It's less simple and conservative because it assumes that many people including top-government officials, rogue explosive-setters, FBI agents, etc were all involved. This also assumes that people were able to do this all with the officials who would be able to detect foul play either being informed or totally ignorant. We also assume that government officials and many others are so cruel that they would throw the entire nation into a peril, sacrifice so many people, cost tons of money, etc. Don't you think that if there was a big conspiracy that the information would be leaked, the someone would "tattle," that someone would mess up and reveal information, etc? None of this is seen. What about e-mailed, private conversations, notes, memos, etc that should have shown up? There's nothing.

Do we also assume that for some reason the explosives wouldn't be picked up by seismographs even though we know that seismographs would pick them up?

It has less scope because the conspiracy raises so many questions:
- How were the explosives planted (without anyone knowing)
- How did these planters sneak into the towers without people noticing?
- If the buildings were going to explode, why did planes fly into them? Terrorists tried to destroy the buildings before, so why wouldn't the planters just blame it on the terrorists?
- Why kill so many? WTC 7 was evacuated because it was destroyed, so why not evacuate the others?
- Where do the attack on the Pentagon and the PA crash figure in to this conspiracy? Why bother if there were explosives?
- Many believe that the pentagon wasn't hit by a plane because the hole was small and contained few big parts (this addresses something you asked above). Why not use a plane? Wasn't a plane good enough for the towers?
- If the pentagon wasn't hit by a plane, where are the passengers and crew?

Videos and documents from Al Qaeda provide evidence that 9/11 was not an inside job and has been broad-casted. Suicide videos from the hijackers were also found. So, did the government also plant all of this in some massive cover-up campaign? How did they do all of this: where were the videos filmed? Where were the documents made? How did they get into the hands of the Arabic broadcasting network?

If there really was a conspiracy, we need to know who did it, how they did it, be able to offer an explanation that is better or as well as our official view. This is just like saying that the Minnesota Bridge Collapse was a conspiracy and was demolished by explosives. We have no evidence for explosives in either scenario and have official explanations that are adequate explanations. 9/11 was no inside job.

For more information, please read Skeptic Magazine's very extensive article debunking 9/11 conspiracy theories here.

Another great site is this "9/11 wiki" debunking many claims by the "9-11 truth movement."

Here's a great movie with a panel of skeptics including one of my favorites Michael Shermer. This movie takes claims by conspiracy theorist, lets them voice their ideas, and takes them apart one by one.