Duck! and Gather

9/11: Help Wanted

Posted on: September 19, 2006

A couple of good friends of mine are engineers. They assure me that believing that any of the WTC buildings collapsed due to controlled demolition is a sure sign of early-onset dementia. The problem with this diagnosis of me is that if correct, I would have no way of knowing that because, by definition, I’d be demented. Demented people don’t know they’re demented. So this is where I need your help.

Here are the two pieces of data that, collectively, “pushed me over the edge” on WTC Building 7:

1. Complete 911 Timeline (a collection of summaries of a collection of news stories)
2. 911 Eyewitness (a 1:44:40 long video)

What Complete Timeline represents for me is persuasive evidence that more than a few people had prior knowledge of the events of 9/11, ranging from pretty good knowledge to down right specific knowledge. In particular, on that site, I looked at the Warning Signs page, and the Insider Trading page.

Those pages shook me out of my certainty that all of the 9/11 “conspiracy theories” were false. After reading those pages, I now had doubt. “If more than a few people had prior knowledge of 9/11,” I thought, “it stands to reason that at least some of those people took prior steps to take advantage of it.” But what steps and who?

In this state of unsettling doubt that had replaced my prior certainty, I watched the 911 Eyewitness video. I’ve now watched it twice. I’m trying to think up how this video is false concerning its analysis of the collapse of WTC Building 7. I confess that, barring “doctoring” of the video data, I can’t see why or how this analysis about Building 7 is false.

The trouble with that is that if one believes that 911 Eyewitness‘ simple analysis of the collapse of WTC Building 7 is correct, logic gives one a swift kick in the rear, knocking one over the line, and into the abyss of the conspiracy madness.

So here’s the help I’m looking for. I’m not looking for anyone to argue that the analysis of 911 Eyewitness on Building 7 is correct. Hell, I already think that.

Instead, I’m looking for someone to explain to me why that analysis is incorrect or false or misleading. In other words, I’m looking for someone to “debunk” that analysis. I couldn’t find such a debunking page on the Internet. Maybe one of you could be the first.

UPDATE: I’ve come across some pages that purport to “debunk” 911 Eyewitness:

  1. Rick Siegel’s 9-11 Eyewitness: Sensationalism and Pseudo-Science
  2. 9-11 Eyewitness Review Part 1 and Moron 9-11 Eyewitness
  3. “9/11 Eyewitness” is Probably Disinformation

I’ve ranked these pages in decreasing order of what I found useful. Collectively, they do seem to provide some “reasonable doubt” about many of the arguments raised in 911 Eyewitness.

The problem, however, is that not a single one of these pages addresses what concerns me most about that video. Namely: the video’s analysis regarding the speed of collapse of WTC Building 7.

I suppose this is my remaining small question: Can one of you do me a favor and debunk the analysis of 911 Eyewitness concerning the speed of WTC 7’s collapse (found at 1:12:47 to 1:17:32 of the video)? Thanks.

15 Responses to "9/11: Help Wanted"

Why do we keep paying taxes? 911 inside job!

Not sure about debunking exactly, but there does seem to be a lot of data there that I have no way of verifying, but let’s take the assumptions at face value and run with it.

Looks like they are using the number of floors as a gauge, and somehow came up with an estimate of 100m as the height. I jumped right to that point in the video, so unless they had some background for this, what was the reasoning for this? Are they sure the had the right floors, the right average height between floors, etc.? It looks like 26 floors = 100m, so is that 3.846m per floor, then? Okay, being “merrikan”, I learned to use metric in science, but don’t really think that way for measurements of length, so over 12 feet per floor. Sounds reasonable I guess.

I did the math (hopefully correct) – discounting air resistance, something could fall at sea level on Earth 99.25 meters in 4.5s. Time=sqrt(2*distance/g) or 4.5s=sqrt(2x/9.8). 20.25s=2x/9.8, 198.45=2x, x=99.25, which is about right on the money. Okay, so assuming everything else isn’t just a wild-ass guess, now we have to account for that we aren’t operating in a perfect vacuum (normally).

So assuming all the input data was correct (highly doubtful) now we’re down to trying to figure out just what the difference would be between something of any weight doing a freefall in a perfect vacuum vs. what happens in a normal building collapse vs. what happens when it is demolished with explosives. Does a perfect vacuum even really get created in a demolition with explosives? That sounds dubious to me. The narrator also says that we must conclude this because it fell within its footprint – weren’t these buildings designed to do just that in case of failure?

I may have to sit down and watch this whole thing (I’m not even sure I know the entire official story on WTC 7 and what was supposed to be the real cause), but that part doesn’t convince me of a demolition. I’m sure terminal velocity wasn’t even close to being reached in that short time span for that sort of weight, and so I wonder if the numbers he was putting into that simulator really reflect good estimates. IIRC, he was putting in some really low numbers for the weight as well.

Thanks for the analysis Sean. Your analysis reminds me of those spreadsheet models that business consultants create, trying to predict future revenue and cost. The whole model often comes down to a handful of variables, the starting values for which are merely SWAGs. Small perturbations in initial assumptions result in big differences when you run the model.

So yeah, this video seemed to hang too much on the fine distinction between vaccum versus air when input variables were so fuzzy.

That being said, I think the video narrator was doing what I did after watching the collapse of WTC 7. Every time I see that clip, my gut says: “that building collapsed ‘too fast'”. This is not a logical conclusion — just an instinct.

So then we look to go beyond instinct and find a basis in reason for our instinct, or, alternatively, to dispel it. Sometimes, we try too hard to confirm our instinct, and “backfill” some hasty logic. That seems to be what happened in this video.

But looking outside this video, it gets worse:

1. The governmental inquiry into 9/11 seems to have concluded that the causes of the collapse of WTC 7 were “inconclusive”.
2. Silverstein’s famous “pull it” quote in his interview with PBS.
3. “Debunkers,” of which the Internet seems full, seem unwilling to look at this speed-of-collapse question even though the video has been out since 2005.

I look forward to your thoughts on the rest of the video. I found it thought-provoking to watch.

Thanks for the comment Christian. Looks like you mispelled your URL. You left out an “a”. Here is the correct one I think:

Yeah, it does have a certain element of Colbert’s “truthiness” to it – at first, it does hit you that it’s falling too fast – especially when told that while the footage is running. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m sure there is data somewhere in the bowels of civil engineering texts or papers on how fast a building would fall in failure vs. demolition – also somewhere in pyrotechnic discussions there is probably info about how much of a vacuum is really created, etc., and all that could be analyzed, but again there is the starting data.

BTW – the original structure was 174m. If they were watching the 26 floors, that works out to about 96.26m.

I will try to get around to watching the video soon. I do agree – there are certainly bits of the WTC 7 that seem ambiguous – after posting my last comment last night, I went off and read the Wikipedia entry on it:

“The report noted that, prior to this collapse, there was no record of the fire-induced collapse of a large fire-protected steel building such as 7 WTC. The report did not reach final conclusions, outlining a number of issues needing to be explored with respect to the cause of the collapse.”

I know you said you don’t like ambiguity, but this clearly seems to be a case that has lots of it, so I can understand why FEMA didn’t reach final conclusions – NIST did a followup that cost $24 million tho and is apparently still ongoing. I recently heard a Keynes quote on some podcast: “When confronted with new information, I reassess and modify my position. What, sir, do you do when confronted with new information?” Probably a good practice for things like this, and maybe why these technocrats are taking their time (and lots of money) on this…

Well reasoned, Sean. I, as well as probably most everybody else who reads this blog, is looking forward to your comments after you’ve watched the whole video. Your insights from just watching a little bit are highly useful.

Maybe when you’ve come to your final analysis on the whole thing, you’ll post your thoughts on your own blog. Then you could just post a comment here with the URL to your blog posting. That way, those of my readers who have not yet checked out your blog will do so because you’ve hooked them already.

This makes me think of something I read recently, an interesting story in Henry Jenkins’ new book Convergence Culture. There’s this show called Survivor. ๐Ÿ˜‰ There is a surprisingly large online collective intelligence community of “Survivor spoilers” who go to great lengths to find out where the location is and who the contestants are and how far they make it. They even use real time satellite photos. Vacationing in Brazil for New Years 2003, someone calling himself ChillOne made his first post to Survivor Sucks at 7:13PM on January 9, 2003. Among many other things, he would go on to provide descriptions of the final four contestants of that season.

Most of the spoiler discussion is open but there are also smaller, closed brain trusts. They operate behind closed doors and from time to time share data with the open discussions. They are often considered elite and thought to have the best sources, including ones within the production company.

However, ChillOne posted to the open group. Jenkins writes: “Some of the brain trusts sought to discredit ChillOne, urging Sucksters not to put their full faith in what he was saying, but they wouldn’t say why. Some believed such warnings because the brain trusts had access to so much inside information…”

One of these days, I’m going to browse the archives of Survivor Sucks to see this conversation. I bet I could have been fooled into rejecting ChillOne’s comments.

And your comment, Tom, makes me think of the emergent “Wisdom of the Crowds” phenonmen for arriving at truth, versus the old “Experts” one. The Internet has uniquely enabled the former. It is my firm belief that more truths, and more useful ones, will emerge with this new method.

Each of us is “expert” in some sets of knowledge. Individually, the expertise of any of us may pale in comparison with the expertise of the “priesthood” of the selected domain. But collectively, our knowledge is unsurpassed. The only challenge is to get the crowd talking amongst themselves. In 1994, the Internet enabled these conversations for every crowd in the world.

I suspect one reason for this “better truth” dynamic may be that the priests are subject to the social tugs and pulls of their domain. As social animals, the pressure on us to line up with prevailing beliefs and mores is strong. It exerts a silent gravitational force on us. One about which we are rarely aware.

I suspect that within the online “crowd”, these social pressures to conform are less. So, for example, if one in the crowd disagrees, he/she merely need post his/her disagreement. This is much easier to do in an anonymous on-line crowd than it is to do within a conventional social circle subject to social pressures of conformity.

I wish I had something original of my own to add… But as I tend to be prone to some knee-jerk judgements… Instead I’ll point you in the direction of two sources that I find useful.

For a good read on the collapses (not just WTC 7), give Dave McGowan’s analysis a try. this one is good too.


The 9/113i Inquiry. An independent international investigation into the events of September 11th, 2001.

Still haven’t watched the video, but I did want to mention this that I recently saw posted on Maybe Logic Academy forums:

It’s RU Sirius discussing his podcast in which he had a 9/11 roundtable – which I still have yet to listen to, although it’s on the iPod. Since RU Sirius is part of the nexus that includes Robert Anton Wilson (and is posting on a site started by RAW), it’s not surprising he claims to be an agnostic about the issue so far – a stance I obviously consider healthy.

I’ll have to see if the book he mentions in his post is at the library…although the lack of footnotes is interesting.

Thanks Andy and Sean. Andy, I found McGowan’s analysis to be sober, well-reasoned, and at to my own gut instinct, worth considering. Still, it’s an argument that is circumstantial (as opposed to direct) in nature. Sean, I hate havinng to log in, so I didn’t get into the MLA discussion.

Well, I’ve decided to do a wrap-up of 9/11 analysis in a series of blog entries. I’m thinking that this event is one of those events subject to no conclusive proof. Perhaps that’s part of what makes it so interesting. That is, being not subject to a definitive proof, but being of great interest, our discussion about the event serves as a poignant “Rorschach test” telling us more about ourselves than about the event itself.

Oops. I forgot you had to log in for that. RU’s piece is here: felt that someone’s response to that was link-worthy:

I suspect that in 50 years time, more information will have dribbled out…but it will become one of those unchallengable American myths. For instance, we now know much more about the circumstances around dropping nukes on Japan – but the myth overwhelms what we may learn later, and bringing up the notion that we only nuked them to “send a message” to the USSR is something that is sure to set most Americans off. Same with Pearl Harbor – the notion that maybe it was overlooked on purpose is not something for polite discussion – even if possibly true. Or hell, even Iran-Contra – Ollie North is a freaking hero to many Americans, and others in that bunch still have careers somehow.

The American myth of “fighting Communism” somehow made Ollie into a hero who was just doing his duty.

I suspect it will be much the same for anything about 9/11. People will be able to dig in and find pieces here and there and learn things that fly in the face of at least some of the myth that has already been established and it will be one of those uphill battles.

A favorite label that reactionaries like to apply to people who learn these facts that overturn the myths are “revisionists”. ๐Ÿ™‚ This must be why PR/propagandists work so hard to come up with narratives – it must be part of human nature that once that narrative is in one’s head, cognitive dissonance takes over and no new information penetrates if it conflicts with that narrative.

Well said.

Yes, no one can debunk the Tower 7 video because it is real,

The measure is real and the data is science from 8th grade. It is a classic demolition. The North and South Towers were of course un-conventional in that they were top down. Of course the core disintegrating into its own footprint also is disturbing.

As the only authenticated piece of footage available in raw state with historical trail of custody the evidence is compelling.

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for the money has gone too far

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