In reply to my post Review of Hardfire debates between Mark Roberts and Loose Change crew, some comments were posted by “boloboffin,” who turns out to be Joseph Nobles, author of a website called AE911Truth.INFO, devoted to a crusade against Richard Gages’s organization Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth (AE911Truth.org).
- The recent revisions to Gage’s presentation
- My aims
- Nobles’s aims
- Bush at the Booker School
- The argument based on a set of collapse features
- Miscellaneous personal attacks by Nobles
- Nobles’s numbers games, part 1: The architects
- Nobles’s numbers games, part 2: The engineers
- The Scripps Howard Poll
- The Zogby Poll
- More miscellaneous personal attacks by Nobles
- The 9/11 Mysteries excerpt
- Back to the collapse-characteristics argument
- More about the collapse-characteristics argument
- Pictures of explosions
(P.S., 3/1/2008: Below, I’ve corrected what were previously numerous references to Gage’s “paid staff.” In email received today, Gage told me that only two of his staff members, who work for the organization close to full time, are paid stipends of only $250 per month. The staff also includes about ten other people who don’t get paid at all.)
The front page of Nobles’s site begins:
UPDATE: Gage Flushes Old Powerpoint Down Memory Hole
There’s no date on this update.
Be that as it may, I had a role in prompting Gage to modify his slideshow, when I emailed him, in late November, to call his attention to the comment thread following my blog post Richard Gage’s slide show, WTC 7 section: Reply to charlienneb, November 27, 2007.
Gage wrote back to me, thanking me, in an email CC’d to his organization’s mostly-volunteer staff, whom he directed to look into the objections discussed in that comment thread.
Earlier, I had begun writing a detailed critique of Gage’s slideshow, which I had planned to email to him, but I never got around to finishing that critique. A few weeks ago I decided to go ahead and send it to him.
Of course, a big difference between my critique and Joseph Nobles’s is that my critique is constructive.
I support what Richard Gage is trying to do. I just think he needs to put together a better-researched presentation which can better serve its purpose of attracting more engineers into the organization, especially the kinds of engineers whose expertise is needed most, such as structural engineers who have worked with high-rise buildings.
I’m not nearly as strong a believer in the “controlled demolition” hypothesis as Richard Gage is. At this point, I, like Nicholas Levis, would call myself a “demolition agnostic.”
But I do have very strong suspicions that something was done to the WTC buildings, especially WTC 7, besides just hitting the Twin Towers with jet planes. I would like to find real experts who would be motivated to research my suspicions and to find whatever sound evidence there might be for them, if indeed such evidence exists. So I would like to see AE911Truth become, to whatever extent it isn’t already, the kind of organization that can attract and motivate such experts to do the needed research.
Hence my desire to do what I can to help Richard Gage improve his slide show, so that it can better attract those who are best qualified to do the kind of research that I think needs to be done.
I’ve suggested to Gage that he form a committee consisting of (1) the most qualified people in the organization (e.g. a few of the structural engineers) and (2) a few people, with at least some technical background, who have been interacting with “debunkers,” e.g. in the JREF forum and the physorg forum. That committee should, among other things, try to develop a consensus as to what is the strongest evidence that the collapses of WTC 1, 2, and 7 were caused by something other than just the two jet crashes and resulting fires. (Note: “something other than just the two jet crashes and resulting fires” is a more general concept than “controlled demolition” or “explosive demolition.”) The committee could then, among other things, help Gage and his staff to develop a new slide show.
Joseph Nobles, on the other hand, is Richard Gage’s avowed enemy. Nobles says, about Gage’s organization, “Somebody should stop them, and I take great pleasure in being able to do my part in stopping them.”
Many times, Nobles accuses Gage not just of making mistakes but of outright lying. What I suspect to be the actual sources of many of Gage’s errors is that (1) Gage does not have enough time to do adequate research himself, being too busy with his career as an architect, plus all his speaking engagements, and that (2) the people on his organization’s mostly-volunteer staff, whom Gage apparently trusts to do much of his research for him (or at least the legwork thereof), are not as thorough or as detail-oriented as we might desire, nor as knowledgeable. (Many of the dozen-or-so staffers, apparently, aren’t architects or engineers.) However, Gage is an eloquent spokesperson, and I believe that he means well. So, I think the appropriate response is to stand behind him while doing what we can to help him develop a more thoroughly researched presentation.
But Nobles’s aim is to tear Gage down, in almost any way he can. As we will see, Nobles pounces upon every opportunity to make Gage look as bad as possible, often stumbling over himself in the process – although he does catch quite a few actual errors of Gage’s too.
After a bunch of preliminary announcements, the front page of Nobles’s website says:
Welcome to AE911Truth.INFO
This is the home page of AE911Truth.info, a site dedicated to exposing the lies and mistakes of Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth. AE911Truth claims to be an advocacy group for engineers and architects who question what they call the “official story” of the 9/11 attacks, but it’s really just a front organization that’s being used for PR purposes.
A front organization? Front for what?
My name is Joseph Nobles, by the way. I’m a live voice writer and actor, and my interest in the 9/11 Truth Movement comes from my political interests. Many members of the Truth Movement come from the left side of the political spectrum. After all, the main appeal in these conspiracy theories is for people who are already disenchanted with George Bush. And that would be me. I’m more than willing to believe the worst of President Bush and his crooked administration. Indeed, I am the target audience for the 9/11 Truth Movement.
Actually, there are a lot of right wing libertarians and paleoconservatives in the 9/11 Truth movement too. The 9/11 Truth movement attracts people from all over the political spectrum, plus quite a few people who were previously apolitical before they got involved in the 9/11 Truth movement.
Above, he uses the term “conspiracy theories.” Two problems with that term:
1) The official story involves a conspiracy too. In no version of the official story is it claimed that the 19 alleged hijackers each acted alone, and that they all just coincidentally happened to end up on the same four planes at the same time.
2) The term “conspiracy theory” lumps together two very different things: (a) suspicions about possible specific instances of government wrongdoing and (b) a conspiratorial view of history in general.
More accurate terms would be “inside job theory” or, more generally, “government complicity theory.”
Below, I’ll focus mainly on Nobles’s review of Richard Gage’s new (as of January 2008) slideshow. But first, I’d like to call attention to one blooper in Nobles’s review of Gage’s September 2007 slide show:
Here Nobles talks about the 911 Truth Statement. He writes:
The questions asked by this Statement are good questions. Most questions are. They all deserve answers, and many of them do have real answers.
For example, one question wonders why the Secret Service allowed Bush to stay at the school for thirty minutes, “apparently unconcerned about his safety and that of the schoolchildren.” The answer is that of course they were, but they had no actionable intelligence that the school was in imminent danger. As Bush prepared an initial speech in a private room, the White House did get such a warning, and Vice-President Cheney was forcibly removed from his office to a basement shelter.
If any such information had been given to the Secret Service guarding the President, Bush would have been evacuated in the same way. In all other circumstances, the Secret Service follows the discretion of the President.
He’s wrong here. Already at 9:05 AM, Andrew Card had whispered into Bush’s ear, “America is under attack.” If “America” was under attack by terrorists, that indeed was sufficent reason to believe that the President might be in danger. Worse yet, the school was near an airport.
The problem is not that the Secret Service didn’t recognize a threat, but that the Secret Service had trouble figuring out where to take the President and how. The Secret Service needed time to gather information on what was afoot and what to do about it. For more about this, see the relevant page on 911myths.com, and see also my response here.
So the Secret Service would appear to be blameless here.
However, Bush himself is clearly guilty of at least criminal negligence, if not worse, as I explain in this comment here.
I’ll now move on to Nobles’s review of the January 2008 slide show. Nobles has nothing substantial to say about slides 1 and 2, so I’ll skip to what was slide 3 at the time Nobles wrote this review.
Slide 3 begins to build the case for Richard Gage’s overall argument. Here is that argument in a nutshell:
Premise: Any building collapse that has these features (A, B, C, etc.) must be a controlled demolition.
Premise: The 3 WTC buildings have these features (A, B, C, etc.).
Conclusion: The 3 WTC buildings were controlled demolitions.
That slide is now gone, at least from that position in the presentation. But I’ll discuss the points on this page anyway, just in case a similar slide still appears later in the presentation. (I haven’t yet looked at the entire current version of the presentation.)
Anyhow, I agree that it’s not the soundest approach. I’ve argued, for a long time, that some of these alleged characteristics of controlled demolitions, as popularized in the 9/11 Truth movement by David Ray Griffin and others, are either (a) not really present in the WTC buildings or (b) not necessarily unique to controlled demolitions. (See my post Demolition of WTC: Let’s not overstate the case, please.)
Instead of using DRG’s outline of “characteristics of a controlled demolition,” I think it would be better to develop a presentation using stronger arguments that show causality and which makes logical, scientifically sound arguments showing why certain features of the events of 9/11 are (or at least seem) incompatible with purely natural collapses due solely to jet crashes and resulting fires. To that end, I’m hoping that the proposed committee can help.
About that same slide, Joseph Nobles writes:
Gage never gives adequate justification for accepting the first premise – the actual characteristics lists. Indeed, the only justification he gives for accepting this list of features is a massive logical fallacy.
Appeal to Authority
From what source does Gage draw the characteristics he lists for controlled demolitions and what he calls explosive demolitions? Himself alone. It is on his authority that these two crucial slides stand and fall.
Actually, no. I don’t see an argument from authority here. The listed characteristics are supported later in the presentation (at least if the current version is sufficiently similar to old versions), not right here in this slide. Later in the slideshow, the justification for most of the characteristics is the physical appearance of the “known controlled demolitions” that he shows. Other characteristics are based on common-sense arguments. For example, “total dismemberment of steel structure” – obviously, the whole point of a commercial CD would be to chop a structure up into manageable pieces.
The “microspheres and pools of molten iron” are not evidence of “controlled demolition” per se, but they might be evidence of a not-purely-natural fire. A microsphere is a solidified droplet of a previously molten substance. A microsphere consisting mostly of iron is evidence of previously molten iron. This in turn is evidence of a temperature near to or above the melting point of iron (1500 degrees C), whereas an office fire is not likely to get much hotter than aronnd 800 degrees C.
Other notable characteristics of controlled demolitions are left off the list, such as visible segmentation of the falling structure and the stripping of potential demolition targets of all interior contents.
Obviously, whatever was done to the WTC buildings, it wasn’t a standard controlled demolition.
Further down on the page, Joseph Nobles writes, about the American Institute of Architects:
Anyone who is a licensed and degreed architect may join this trade association
But he then quotes the AIA website as saying:
As AIA members, over 80,000 licensed architects, emerging professionals, and allied partners express their commitment to excellence in design and livability in our nation’s buildings and communities.
Note that the “over 80,000” members include more than just “licensed architects.” We’ll see this number again later.
Further down on the page, Joseph Nobles says, about Architect and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, that it is “less a professional organization and more an advocacy group.” Well, duh. Any organization with the word “for” in its name is most likely an advocacy group.
In connection with the above, Nobles uses the term “conspiracy theorists.” For my objections to that term, see the section of this post on Nobles’s aims.
Further down, Nobles says:
Argument ad Populum
That’s a technical way of saying, “Lots of other people believe this and so you should, too.” It’s the popular argument.
Gage will do this a lot. He’s got some poll numbers (although there’s not a lot of populum in the polls he cites). The advocacy group he started is attempting to be more of the same.
If my memory of Gage’s presentation is correct, the above claim by Nobles is a straw man.
Does Gage ever actually claim that people should believe him just because a bunch of other people agree with him? I don’t recall him saying any such thing. Poll numbers obviosly don’t prove a given viewpoint to be correct, and I don’t think he ever claimed that it did. At most, poll numbers may be a reason to examine a given viewpoint, but they are certainly not, in themselves, a reason to accept it. Bringing up the poll numbers suggests, at most, that one should ask why these people believe what they believe. Poll numbers can also reassure people that if they choose to adopt a given viewpoint, they won’t be alone. But that’s a far cry from a full-fledged Argument ad Populum, because, obviously, a person who doesn’t adopt Gage’s viewpoint won’t be alone either.
His argument collapses, then, into something more precisely expressed like this:
Premise: Controlled demolitions have some of these features.
Premise: The collapses of the 3 WTC buildings have some of these features.
Conclusion: Therefore, the collapse of these 3 buildings were controlled demolitions.
Obviously that’s not the best possible argument. The kind of argument Gage should make, in my opinion, would be more like this:
1) The collapses of WTC 1, 2, and/or 7 (and/or the fires preceding the collapses) had features 1, 2, 3, …, which are incompatible with a purely natural consequence of two jet crashes and resulting fires. (The incompatibility should be shown via some kind of analysis, not just pictures, The analysis should be developed by the most qualified members of the committee I suggested earlier.)
2) The WTC collapses (and/or the preceding fires) had features A, B, C, …, which suggest non-natural factor X.
Now on to the next slide:
As Joseph Nobles correctly notes, none of the buildings Gage has designed are high-rises. The committee I suggested earlier should include some people with experience in design of high-rises.
But rest easy knowing that you can still “Take An Architect Or Engineer To Lunch.” He’s literally looking for a free meal.
Straw man on Nobles’s part. I don’t see “Take An Architect Or Engineer To Lunch” on the front page of ae911truth.org anymore, but the point, if I recall correctly, was not that one should take Gage himself out for a free lunch. The point was to try to bring new architects or engineers into the organization by discussing the events of 9/11 with them over lunch (regardless of who paid for the lunch).
(P.S., 2/29/2008: I found the Take an architect and engineer to lunch link on the front page, in the left hand column. The linked page is definitely not about buying lunch for Gage personally. But it does request donations for the purpose of providing free food at Gage’s presentations to architects and engineers.)
Still, that hasn’t stopped Gage from unveiling his latest plan to fund his vacation trips around the country: Sustaining Members!
Nobles has jumped to an unwarranted conclusion what the sustaining members fund is Gage’s “vacation trips around the country.”
According to what Gage told me recently, most of the money goes to stipends for paid staff, including the web designer. I could be mistaken, but I don’t think the paid staff includes Gage himself. I’ll ask.
(P.S., 3/1/2008: In email received today, Gage told me that only two of his staff members, who work for the organization close to full time, are paid stipends of only $250 per month. The staff also includes about ten other people who don’t get paid at all.)
As for Gage’s travel expenses, my guess is that they are paid primarily by the organizations that host him as a speaker. I’m pretty sure that was the case when he spoke at the New York 9/11 Truth conference here in New York this past September.
The first thing to notice in slide 6 is the paucity of professionals that have joined Gage.
There are currently 80,000 members of the American Institute of Architects. Gage has 14 actively licensed architects listed on this slide. As of 10 February 2008, there are 42 actively licensed architects listed at their website.
As I mentioned earlier, the “80,000 members of the American Institute of Architects” include more people than just licensed architects. They also include “emerging professionals and allied partners.”
On the other hand, Gage’s site includes both a listing of Architects (Degreed & Licensed – Active & Retired), of whom there are now 47, plus a list of other Architectural Professionals (Degreed), of whom there are now 34, for a total of 81 petition signers who work or have worked in the field of architecture.
So, for an apples-to-apples comparison, the ratio should be 81 to 80,000, not 42 to 80,000. Admittedly still a small ratio, but, as we shall continue to see, Nobles exaggerates at every opportunity on this issue.
People may fault me for implying that all 80,000 members of the AIA not currently members of AE911Truth are absolutely in opposition to Gage’s group. However, they arguably are.
I would hazard a guess that all of them are aware of these buildings falling down (most certainly the twin towers). Yet only these 42 have seen fit to join Gage’s group, and many of them only after viewing Gage’s presentation.
First, the majority of the world’s architects have probably not studied the WTC collapses themselves, beyond reading the pronouncements of mainstream experts. Most architects probably have not read NIST report, for example. And an architect would have to have studied the WTC buildings oneself in order to have an informed opinion about them. After all, as the “debunkers” themselves are fond of pointing out in other contexts (e.g. in response to the argument that no steel-frame skyscraper has ever collapsed due to fire), every building is unique, with its own strengths and vulnerabilities.
If one is going to do an apples-to-apples comparison of numbers, it would be fair to compare only those on both sides who have actually studied the WTC buildings and the WTC collapses on their own, rather than just reading summary articles in trade journals.
Furthermore, it’s likely that there exist at least a few architects who agree with AE911T but who hesitate to join, out of fear of having their full legal names published on a controversial website. Most likely, some would prefer to support the 9/11 Truth movement in a less public way.
Here again, Nobles ignores the category of degreed but not licensed “Engineering professionals” on the AE911T website, when making a comparison to the number of “engineers” in the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Also, in the list of licensed engineers, Nobles counted only three structural engineers. I counted eight. Hint: They don’t all call themselves “structural engineers” on the blue panel on the left. You have to read what they say about themselves on the white panel too.
Nobles then attempts to debate with the personal statements of the three structural engineers he recognizes as such.
Ronald Brookman is quoted as saying, among other things: “I would really like to know exactly why complete collapse of the twin towers was “inevitable” for all 110 stories in about 10 seconds – twice.”
In reply, Nobles says, “I direct Mr. Brookman’s attention to the NIST Final Report on the Twin Towers and the various papers helmed by Dr. Zdenek P. Bazant.”
Nobles apparently assumes that Brookman must be unfamiliar with the NIST report and Bazant’s papers. Nobles doesn’t just ask whether Brookman is familiar with the NIST report and Bazant’s papers. An unstated further assumption here seems to be that any engineer familiar with the NIST report would, of course, agree with it; therefore, anyone who implicitly questions the NIST report must not have even looked at it. In fact, as Nobles himself will admit later, some aspects of the NIST report have been questioned even by people who otherwise see nothing untoward about the WTC collapses.
The next structural engineer, Kamal S. Obeid, does admit that he has “only recently … begun to examine the structural collapse of the buildings,” but there’s no reason to assume that the same is true of all.
Nobles also observes about Kamal S. Obeid:
Note as well that Mr. Obeid is much more careful with his language. Richard Gage declares confidently that the buildings demonstrate ALL the characteristics of controlled or “explosive” demolition. Mr. Obeid says that these observed items are “quite troubling indications,” a much more rationally stated position.
Indeed it would be wise for Gage’s presentation, likewise, to be more careful to avoid overstatements, in order to attract more engineers into the organization, especially the most qualified structural engineers, i.e. those who work on high-rise buildings.
This slide correctly quotes the Time Magazine article about the poll: “Thirty-six percent of respondents overall said it is “very likely” or “somewhat likely” that federal officials either participated in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon or took no action to stop them.” This quote explicitly includes people who believe a pure-LIHOP scenario.
Yet Nobles insinuates that Gage is somehow using that quote to mislead us into believing that all or most of those “Thirty-six percent of respondents” agree with Gage’s inside job theory.
Nobles goes on to talk about LIHOP vs. MIHOP. He uses definitions similar to those used in the Zogby poll that is discused on the next page. Nobles defines “LIHOP” and “MIHOP” as follows:
The LIHOP side charges the U.S. government with a sin of omission. They Let It Happen On Purpose. The MIHOP side charges the government with a sin of commission. They Made It Happen On Purpose by either giving covert assistance to the hijackers or actually planning and carrying out the attacks.
Actually, many people in the 9/11 Truth movement use the terms “LIHOP” and “MIHOP” in a somewhat way. Some people use the term “LIHOP” to refer to any scenario involving real live human hijackers, even if some people in the U.S. government actively helped them out, and even if that help involved things like planting explosives in the WTC buildings. Folks who use the term “LIHOP” this way reserve the term “MIHOP” for hypotheses involving remote-controlled planes and such, with no human hijackers. Under these definitions, a hypothesis involving people in the U.S. government giving active covert assistance to the hijackers would be classified as “LIHOP plus.” It would also qualify as an “inside job” hypothesis, though not as pure “MIHOP.” (See, for example, What Is Your “HOP” Level? by Nicholas Levis.)
So, to avoid ambiguity, I would phrase the distinction Nobles is making as “pure LIHOP” vs. “inside job,” rather than as “LIHOP” vs. “MIHOP.” But Nobles does at least define his terms, so I’m not faulting him for this. I’m just making a clarification for those readers who might be confused by other uses of the terms elsewhere.
Anyhow, Nobles goes on to talk about the 16% who believe it’s at least “somewhat likely” that explosives were planted in the towers: “That 16% isn’t quite as persuasive when it’s split into its components and put right up against a staggering 77% that find such a scenario unlikely.”
“Persuasive” of what? The above remark is based on an assumption that Gage as making an Argument ad Populum. As I explained earlier, that assumption is questionable.
Nobles then argues, probably correctly, that the 16% figure includes people who believe that the explosives were planted by Al Qaeda terrorists, in addition to people who believe the explosives were planted by people with ties to high U.S. officials.
Nobles quotes the original Scripps Howard News Service article as saying:
University of Florida law professor Mark Fenster, author of the book “Conspiracy Theories: Secrecy and Power in American Culture,” said the poll’s findings reflect public anger at the unpopular Iraq war, realization that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction and growing doubts of the veracity of the Bush administration.
So the growth in belief of 9/11 conspiracy theories is directly related to anger over the bungled war in Iraq. This isn’t a statement made after careful consideration of the evidence, but an expression of disgust with an incompetent government.
No, the reason mentioned by Mark Fenster isn’t disgust with the government’s “incompetence,” but “growing doubts” about the government’s veracity, given the “realization that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction.” The Bush administration lied us into the Iraq war. Lying us into a war proves that Bush, Cheney, et al are murderous liars. So, it’s only natural to ask what else they might have lied to us about, and who else they might have murdered.
I think the Fenster quote would make a very good additional slide in Gage’s presentation.
Nobles then points out that the Time magazine article doesn’t exactly endorse the alternative views. No surprise there.
Nobles then berates Gage for not including, on the AE911T website, links to both the original Scripps Howard News Service article and the Time Magazine article quoted in his slide show. Nobles then claims to have “demonstrated” that the reason why such links were not added on the AE911T website is so that Gage can deceive us by hiding the parts of those articles that don’t endorse Gage’s views.
I do think it would be desirable for the AE911T website to include links to all articles referenced in the slideshow. However, the most likely reason why such links aren’t included (yet) is simply that the person in charge of the website hasn’t bothered, so far, to add them. Remember, Gage himself doesn’t do the website.
The first two thirds of what Nobles says on this page is interesting, but neither here nor there as far as Gage’s presentation is concerned, so I won’t comment.
Nobles then berates Gage for leaving out two of the Zogby poll questions.
The results of one of these questions show that only “37% of those surveyed said that there should be a new investigation” of 9/11, in contrast to the 51% who say they want, more specifically, for “Congress to probe Bush/Cheney regarding 9/11 Attacks” and the 67% who “also fault 9/11 Commission for not investigating anomalous collapse of World Trade Center 7.” These answers seem mutually contradictory. Perhaps a lot of people don’t want a new investigation of every aspect of 9/11 but just some aspects?
Nobles also berates Gage for not including the question showing that only 4.6% of Americans believe MIHOP, in contrast to the total of 36.4% who doubt the official story in one way or another.
Nobles’s remarks here pertain more to the site itself than to Gage’s use of it, so I won’t comment in detail.
Again I’ll point out that what Gage is doing here isn’t quite an “Argument ad Populum,” since Gage is neither claiming that a majority of people agree with him nor claiming that the existence of the people listed on the “Patriots Question 9/11” website proves that any particular idea is correct. All that these lists of people prove, at most, is that it might be a good idea to pay attention to the issue.
As for Dr. James Quintiere, I think it’s worth pointing out that the NIST report is not considered infallible even amongst those experts who believe that the WTC buildings collapsed due just to jet crashes and resulting fires.
On this page, Nobles quibbles with Gage’s call for “objectivity,” pointing out that Gage isn’t exactly the most “objective” person in the world. As we have seen, Nobles himself, all the more so, is far from the most “objective” person in the world.
Nobles repeats the claim that Gage is “soliciting for free lunches.”
Nobles also claims that Gage “has been cloaking the true extent of his conclusions behind more popular-sounding facades.” In fact, it’s hardly a secret that Gage believes in CD of the WTC buildings and believes it was done by people with ties to high U.S. officials.
Nobles starts off by denouncing 9/11 Mysteries and referring us to a site devoted to debunking it, and to that site’s critique of the particular portion of 9/11 mysteries presented in slide #15 and 16.
Nobles, like the above site, says:
Very often, what they are doing when they say “official story” is creating a straw man argument, “an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent’s position.” Instead of dealing with the actual statements and conclusions of official and scholarly studies, Gage will create his own version of the “official story” and disprove that. This is like building a straw effigy of a man, hanging it, and then pretending that you’ve actually hanged the man.
One great example of this here is the often repeated idea that the structural steel melted while the towers were standing. No official document or scholarly study states that structural steel melted, causing the collapse. And yet 911 Mysteries says that nonsense like this “bled into the FEMA report.” It isn’t there.
Actually, the portion of 9/11 Mysteries being used here does not use the term “official story,” but refers instead to the melting of steel as part of a “myth” that “developed, fed by official sources through the media to a bewildered audience.” And indeed, as Jim Hoffman has pointed out in his review of 9/11 Mysteries,
Critics of 911 Mysteries have flagged this as an error, pointing out that the official story blames collapses on the softening — not melting — of steel. However, in the days following the attack, the mainstream media featured numerous experts proclaiming that the fires had melted structural steel.
The video 9/11 Mysteries does contain lots of errors, but the above isn’t one of them.
Of course, if Gage continues to use any portion of 9/11 Mysteries, which perhaps he shouldn’t, he should clarify that no truly “official” sources say that the structural steel melted.
Nobles then says:
And yet 911 Mysteries says that nonsense like this “bled into the FEMA report.” It isn’t there.
The term “bled” suggests that the “myth” was partially but not completely incorporated into the FEMA report. It seems to me that the main thing Sofia is saying “bled into the FEMA report” was simply a non-consideration of any hypothesis involving damage to the buildings caused by anything other than just the two plane crashes, directly or indirectly. I don’t think Sofia meant to imply that Gene Corley and his team didn’t examine the evidence at all, as Nobles suggests further down on the page, citing the team’s actual research as an alleged disproof of Sofia’s remark.
Nobles also says:
I’ve been in lots of discussions with people who believe in a controlled demolition hypothesis, and the vast majority of them cannot describe the actual collapse sequence as described by the NIST Final Report. Someone built a straw man of the NIST report before them and then tore the straw man to shreds. And now they think the NIST Report is false!
It’s true that a lot of people in the 9/11 Truth movement have not bothered to try to understand NIST’s hypothesis, as indeed they should.
However, as we’ll see later, on a page I’ll review in a future post, Nobles himself apparently does not understand NIST’s preliminary observations about WTC 7 very well.
With this slide, Richard Gage introduces the notion that all types of destroyed buildings have “very different identifiable sets of characteristics.” Building collapses are like fingerprints in Gage’s argument. In logical terms, there is an if and only if relationship between these “sets of characteristics” and the building collapses they describe.
That’s an accurate summary of Gage’s approach. And I agree that it is flawed.
Nobles refers again to Gage’s alleged argument from authority (his own) and his alleged argument from popularity.
Nobles points out the following actual error:
In the top right hand corner of this slide, there is a picture that Gage has labeled Topple (Earthquake). In the very next slide, Gage will classify the same picture as Collapsed, in opposition to the label Fell Over.
To Nobles, this is an example, not of a mere error, but of “pure poppycock.”
Characteristic Features of Destruction by Fire
Gage brings this up in his talk at this point. Here are the points he listed in the online version of this talk:
Fires by their nature tend to creep from place to place, as they run out of fuel and find fresh fuel sources, leaving behind the burned out areas to cool.
Now when collapses do occur, and they have never in a high-rise office building, but for instance in wood buildings, they begin gradually and asymmetrically, with large, visible, slow deformations.
All of this actually happens in the 3 WTC buildings. As large as the initial fires were, the towers were larger, giving the fires plenty of creep room. Modern buildings (including the WTC buildings) are designed to deal with this creeping phenomenon, but the fires on 9/11 were immense, and started over huge areas of the buildings. No design could accommodate these fires.
The buildings also fell asymmetrically. The upper sections of both towers fell to the south before building enough momentum to overwhelm the ability of the structure below to support them. 7 World Trade also slumped to the south as it fell.
But, in the case of WTC 7, there’s also the very important question of just how asymmetrically it fell, and what the significance of that asymmetry is. It seems to me that this issue has significance that goes well beyond an “each type of collapse has its own fingerprints” style of argument. (See my posts Review of Hardfire debates between Mark Roberts and Loose Change crew and Two WTC 7 collapse videos: Can both be real? and the comment threads below them.)
Anyhow, Nobles goes on to say, “Each of the three WTC buildings also showed large, visible, and slow deformations.” He then shows pictures of the deforming perimeter columns on the east side of the South Tower and the deforming perimeter columns on the south side of the North Tower.
Nobles then quotes FDNY Deputy Chief Peter Hayden about a “visible bulge” seen in the in the southwest corner of WTC 7, between floors 10 and 13. Hayden is also quoted as talking about the use of a transit (a special kind of telescope) to measure the progress of the deformation.
Something very odd I’ve noticed about WTC 7, though: I have not found any mention of these deformations prior to collapse, let alone any measurements of these deformations, in either Chapter 5 (PDF) of the FEMA report or Appendix L – Interim Report on WTC 7 (PDF) in NIST’s June 2004 Progress Report. One would think these would be highly relevant data.
Nobles then talks about:
The CD Characteristic Gage Never Mentions
In every clip of a controlled demolition I’ve seen, the building breaks up into multiple large segments before collapsing, like a birthday cake being cut into servings. This is clearly seen in the following controlled demolition of the Tencza Apartments in Arlington, Virginia
of which he then shows a video.
And the larger the structure, the larger and more numerous the segments. Here’s a link to the controlled demolition of the Landmark Building in Fort Worth. As it falls, you can see it slide apart in the segments created by the explosive blasts.
Indeed, if explosives were used in any of the WTC buildings, it seems to me that they would have to have been used much more sparingly than in a standard commercial “controlled demolition.”
“You Tend To See A Whole Lot of Pancakes”
Gage makes this statement during his lecture. The first thing to absolutely make clear is this: NIST specifically says that it is not using pancaking for its explanation of the collapse of the towers.
NIST’s findings do not support the “pancake theory” of collapse, which is premised on a progressive failure of the floor systems in the WTC towers (the composite floor system – that connected the core columns and the perimeter columns – consisted of a grid of steel “trusses” integrated with a concrete slab; see diagram below). Instead, the NIST investigation showed conclusively that the failure of the inwardly bowed perimeter columns initiated collapse and that the occurrence of this inward bowing required the sagging floors to remain connected to the columns and pull the columns inwards. Thus, the floors did not fail progressively to cause a pancaking phenomenon.
Whenever Gage describes the official story as being pancaking, he is building a straw man.
However, as Nobles himself admits later, NIST’s disclaimer against “pancaking” applies only to the initiation of collapse.
However, as the collapse itself progressed, we should expect some pancaking to happen. After the collapse started, the floors then would have slammed into each other. Gage is right about this, but he denies that there was any evidence of pancaked floors in the debris pile.
Nobles then says that the “pancakes” are indeed visible, in the “meteorites” which Gage shows us later. He refers us to a page of photos of WTC relics on the AM New York website, where the “meteorites” (beginning at image 31) are described as follows:
Large pieces of debris, likened to meteorites by preservationists, are actually several floors of the towers compressed together as the buildings collapsed. Furniture, twisted metal, pipes, cords and even papers with legible type are visible. The pieces are kept in a humidity-controlled tent in Hangar 17 of Kennedy International Airport.
Nobles may indeed have a valid point here. One of these days I should look closely at pictures of more of these “meteorites,” maybe even visit Hangar 17 in person, if the general public is allowed to do so.
Again Nobles berates Gage for the error of a picture that is classified two different ways on differnt slides.
Nobles then makes the following valid point:
Examine The Buildings
Without exception, every one of the buildings pictured here are dwarfed by the 3 WTC buildings. The tallest here is about 15 stories (the one in the lower left). Building 7 was 47 stories high, and the twin towers, at 110 stories each, were among the largest human structures in the world.
So the forces at play in these collapses are not equivalent to the WTC buildings.
Indeed the force of gravity would be much greater for a more massive building, and the gravitational potential energy would be much greater for a taller building. So, if indeed a skyscraper were to collapse “naturally,” we should not expect its collapse to look the same as a “natural” collapse of a much smallre building.
I would add, furthermore, that no one really knows for sure what a purely “natural” collapse of a skyscraper “should” look like, because such a collapse has never happened before. Never before in the history of the world has any steel frame skyscraper collapsed for any reason whatsoever. So, if one is going to evaluate the WTC collapses in terms of its resemblance to some set of characteristics, we simply do not have an adequate baseline for comparison.
These are points I made long ago here on my blog. See the section titled WTC 1 and 2: Size matters in my post Demolition of WTC: Let’s not overstate the case, please.
Nobles then goes on to make the following valid points:
Also, look at the general structure of these buildings. They all appear to be buildings we are familiar with, small rooms with bracing throughout the building.
All three of the WTC buildings under Gage’s microscope are unique designs. Their structure allowed for large amounts of floors space unimpeded by bracing. This gave tenants a lot of flexibility in how their offices were designed.
This also means that the buildings on this slide can’t be fruitfully compared to how the WTC buildings fell. Different structures will fall in different ways. Because there is so much less mass involved in these collapses, the structures didn’t experience anywhere near the stresses involved in the WTC collapses.
Also, at least three of these pictures (if not all of them) depict buildings in which concrete was using as a structural element. The WTC buildings did have concrete, but it was only used for the floors. It was not used to reinforce the steel framing. Keep that in mind for future reference.
The following issue, though, is a bit more complex than what Nobles presents here:
Finally, all of these pictures are the victims of earthquakes. Earthquakes exert immense dynamic forces on buildings in a lateral direction (side to side). This is why they toppled. The main force at work in the 3 WTC buildings is gravity, a vertical force. Something would either have to convert that downward force to a lateral force, or a separate lateral force would need to be applied to those three buildings to get them to topple. Neither situation happened on 9/11.
In fact, especially in the case of WTC 7, there was indeed something to convert some of the downward force into a lateral force, namely torque. WTC 7’s foundation provided a good fulcrum for the force of gravity to amplify any leaning, especially at the beginning of the collapse. (Of course, at some point, once the global collapse got going in earnest, the torque would have been outweighed by the smashing of the bottom of the remaining structure.)
The top part of WTC 2 did lean over quite a bit, over twenty degrees, due to torque, even though the top part of WTC 2 did not have anywhere nearly as good a fulcrum as WTC 7 most likely had.
Next, Nobles writes, about a bunch of pictures of building collapses other than CD’s:
“Thick, Billowing Smoke”
A very important thing to realize about all four of these pictures: They were taken after the smoke and dust of their collapses had cleared.
.. On the next slide, he’s going to make the point that controlled demolition makes huge billowing clouds of smoke and dust, but he doesn’t let you compare the inevitable dust clouds from these collapses.
Valid points. But Nobles also says, “Gage has this very bad habit of controlling just how you get to see the evidence.” I don’t think this is necessarily a matter of deliberate “control” on Gage’s part. I think he’s just using the pictures that he, or his staff, just happened to dig up.
In this slide, Gage has two pictures of large explosions happening in small buildings. He doesn’t source them, so as soon as I find out the details behind these buildings I will add them here.
It would be nice if Gage (or his staff) could source them.
If you watch the WTC tower collapses carefully, you will see that debris only goes out and down, not up. The only exception to this is the lightest debris with the highest surface area, such as some of the aluminum cladding. The building itself falls away from where the debris left it, trailing the smoke and dust behind it. That is what makes the arced appearance of the smoke and dust.
An explosion is not hurling debris up out of the WTC towers. The debris is falling out and down, and the building is then falling away from that point.
This is not how an explosion acts. This is how falling debris acts when it has ricocheted off something below.
This is one of the more subtle deceptions you will find in Gage’s presentation. I would love to be able to say that Gage has fooled himself here. Many others have by simply looking at still shots of explosions and comparing them to images of the WTC collapses. It is not easy to see unless you’re looking for it.
This is a matter I’m going to have to study sometime by looking at WTC collapse videos in slow motion. I’m not yet prepared to comment.
Anyhow, althouth Nobles here acknowledges the possibility that Gage may have “fooled himself,” like “many others,” this page begins with the following accusation:
How Useful Are Frozen Pictures of Explosions?
They can be very useful when you don’t want people to recognize a key feature of explosions – the track of debris flying up.
Further down on the page, Nobles says:
But fooled or not, Gage is presenting a deception here. And either way, that makes him an untrustworthy guide into these matters.
On topics pertaining to such unique events as the WTC collapses, I don’t consider anyone to be an infallible “trustworthy guide.” Anyhow, although Gage is a building professional, he does lack expertise on various relevant issues; hence my suggestion that his presentation be informed by a committee of people with greater knowledge of those issues.
I’ll devote a separate post to the next two pages of Nobles’s review, later.