New York City activist

March 5, 2008

“9/11 Guide” page about Richard Gage

In a comment here after my post Richard Gage’s avowed enemy, part 1, ref1 asked me to look at his page about Richard Gage, on his “9/11 Guide” site.

The page is titled Richard Gage & AE911Truth: Are They Worth Your Money?. Alas, it focusses mainly on attacking Gage as a person, and on griping about the fact that his organization asks for donations, rather than on critiquing Gage’s views.

The first 25% of the page is devoted to scrutinizing Gage’s work history, taking a long time to prove the point that Gage has not designed high-rise buildings. Well, I already knew that. As far as I’m aware, no one has ever disputed that point, so I don’t see why it was necessary to dig into his work history in such detail.

ref1, if you are going to dig so deeply into other people’s personal backgrounds and work history, would you like to tell us a little bit about your own personal background and work history too? Maybe even tell us your full legal name?

Of course, ref1, you do have the right to remain anonymous. I choose not to give out indentifying personal information about myself either. But I personally feel that anonymous Internet posters are at their best when they focus on issues rather than on personalities. When an anonymous Internet poster focusses, instead, on digging into the personal backgrounds of people who have chosen to put their legal names and personal reputations on the line in defense of a controversial cause, it can come across as cowardly and even a bit creepy, almost stalkerlike.

Anyhow, the article then says, “Gage has produced no original evidence of his own. His evidence is direct copy-paste from the works of David Ray Griffin, Jim Hoffman and Steven Jones. You can compare the evidence listed by Richard Gage at the frontpage of AE911Truth.org to the evidence presented by Griffin, Hoffman, and Jones.”

To say that it’s all “direct copy-paste” is an exaggeration, but it’s true that his presentation is very closely based on the work of the above three people.

On another page, Who Influenced Who – WTC Demolition Edition, ref1 has a diagram showing Richard Gage as being influenced only by David Ray Griffin, not by Steven Jones or Jim Hoffman, inconsistent with what he says in his article Richard Gage & AE911Truth: Are They Worth Your Money?.

Back to the latter page. Next are links to a bunch of “9/11 debunking” sites.

After that, the article discusses what are said to be the “more absurd Gage claims.”

First, there’s a quote from what is apparently a debate between Richard Gage and Ron Craig. Gage is quoted as saying:

Well that’s why they would have used thermite, which is a more silent, um, thermate, which is a special form of thermite with added sulfur, because obviously you wouldn’t want a whole bunch of explosions to be heard, even though they were, it’s not a perfect science. They have a hundred and eighteen witnesses just from those who were recorded in the oral histories.

Alas, I can’t watch the video of this debate, but, if I recall correctly from what I’ve been told about it, the above is in reply to a claim by Ron Craig (or by someone else?) that CD was impossible because no one heard explosions – or, at least, not loud enough explosions.

Anyhow, ref1 comments:

How do you hear silent explosions? When did thermate start exploding?

The quoted statement by Gage didn’t say “silent explosions,” nor was there a claim that thermate explodes.

Admittedly, Gage’s statement is not phrased in the clearest possible way, but what I understand him to have meant is the following:

1) It is likely that the perpetrators would have preferred to use thermite/thermate instead of an explosive, because thermite/thermate doesn’t make any loud sounds. (Thermite/thermate is an incendiary, not a “silent explosive.”)

2) However, the perpetrators might have decided that the use of thermite/thermate wasn’t sufficient. They might have decided that they needed to supplement it with explosives in at least a few key places.

3) Witnesses heard explosions, so the claim that no explosions were heard is untrue.

ref1’s page then says, “To see what the explosions described by some firemen actually were, see here and here.” The links are to posts in the JREF forum in which Mark Roberts (a.k.a. Gravy) explains other possible causes of explosive sounds that were heard.

Another similar JREF post, which ref1 does not link to, is this one, which quotes some particularly interesting eye-witness testimonies. I’ll have more to say about these other testimonies in a future blog post.

ref1’s page then says:

Another statement from the same debate (around 41:45 mark). Gage says about the collapse: “80.000 tons of intact, cold structural steel designed to resist exactly that load, having done that for the last 30 years, and the life-span of this building for the next 50, free-fall speed virtually..”

ref1 responds by talking about the difference between static load and dynamic load. To illustrate the difference, ref1 suggests an experiment of gently laying a brick on one’s head vs. dropping a brick on one’s head.

Actually, to be more closely analogous to what happened to the WTC buildings, the dropped brick should be at least partly chopped up into pebble-sized pieces, a portion of which should already scattered to the side by the time the rest of the pieces hit your head. This would still, most likely, hurt more than gently laying a brick on top of one’s head, but nevertheless entails a more subtle quantitative question than ref1’s proposed experiment would suggest. (For more about this matter, see the comment thread starting here after my post Demolition of WTC: Let’s not overstate the case, please.)

Next:

Gage also lists FDNY foreknowledge as partial evidence of controlled demolition of WTC 7. FDNY foreknowledge means, they knew the building was going to collapse. FDNY Chief Daniel Nigro made the decision to evacuate, he did not receive the evacuation order from some higher-ups. This means Chief Nigro had foreknowledge. This means Chief Nigro’s foreknowledge is evidence of controlled demolition. This means Chief Nigro is involved. Which is absurd.

I agree that Gage should stop using FDNY “foreknowledge” of WTC 7’s collapse as evidence of demolition. (See various pages linked in the section titled “Foreknowledge” by NYC officials – a bad argument in my post Demolition of WTC: Let’s not overstate the case, please.)

On the other hand, the CNN broadcast in which a cop announces that WTC 7 “ia about to blow up” is interesting. Yes, I know we can’t be sure what that really might have meant, and that it’s at best ambiguous as evidence, but it is interesting.

Gage claims sounds of explosions at ground floor of WTC 7 a full second prior to collapse, were heard by hundreds of firemen and media reporters. This is simply not true. He bases this claim on this testimony (WMV), that can be listened to at his site. The testimony does not mention bombs, it does not even mention explosions, let alone mention hundreds of firemen and media reporters. It is a quote of one single person, who says: “We heard this sound that was like a clap of thunder”, which is exactly what you would expect hearing when a building collapses. One can not assume buildings collapse totally silently.

Indeed, if he’s going to claim that sounds of explosions where heard by many firefighters, etc., he should provide more and better examples of such witness testimony. (I think there may be more examples in the slide show, but I can’t comment on those because I can’t watch online video.)

Gage also claims NIST admits that they have not analyzed and have not been able to adequately explain the Twin Towers’ collapse. This is misleading. NIST says they have not been able to model the collapse. This is, quote “Because of the magnitude of deflections and the number of failures occurring, the computer models are not able to converge a solution”. This is clearly explained in the NIST letter (PDF).

A valid point. NIST is unable to model the collapse in detail because it’s too complicated, but they consider Bazant’s hypothesis to be a good enough rough approximation.

ref1 then says the following about the technical articles page:

The amount of technical articles on this page equals to 30 as of December 26, 2007. How many of these technical articles are written by him? None of them are written by Richard Gage. No original content, no papers, no calculations have originated from Gage or AE911Truth.

I’ve suggested to Gage that he encourage those members of his organization with expertise in certain particular fields to get involved in relevant research, at least in an advisory capacity.

And is an architect really an expert to analyze structural collapses? Apparently even Gage thinks not, because his December 2007 newsletter makes a desperate call for structural engineers: “Tell your friends, family and colleagues the truth that you know — particularly the structural engineers!” (bolding by Richard Gage).

Indeed Gage’s organization does need more structural engineers. I’ve suggested to Richard Gage that he form a committee that would include, among other people, some of the structural engineers and high-rise architects who are already members of his organization. The proposed committee could, among other things, recommend changes to Gage’s presentation so that he could reach more structural engineers. His presentation, in its current form, does contain some mis-statements that would likely be a turnoff to high-rise structural engineers in particular.

There indeed is a shortage of actual structural engineers who claim WTC was demolished with explosives. This page (PDF) lists well over 1000 certified structural engineers, certified by the Structural Engineering Certification Board (SECB) of The National Council of Structural Engineers Association. And that is just certified structural engineers in United States, Puerto Rico & Virgin Islands, certified in 2005 or later. Consider, how many thousands of more of structural engineers there are worldwide. And how many of these over 1000 certified structural engineers question the events of 9/11? You guessed it, not a single one.

How does ref1 know? Has he interviewed every single one of them?

There may well be certain specific claims that no certified structural engineer would ever make. For example, it’s a fairly safe bet that no certified structural engineer would ever claim that fire cannot cause a skyscraper to collapse. But it’s quite a leap from that to claim that not even a single certified structural engineer questions any aspect whatsoever of “the events of 9/11.” Lots of things happened on 9/11, about which many different questions have been raised.

Anyhow, there are some structural engineers in Gage’s organization, at least some of whom are “licensed.” I’m not sure whether any of these are also “certified.” However, even if it turns out that none of the structural engineers in AE911T are “certified,” it does not follow that no certified structural engineer has ever questioned any aspect of what happened on 9/11.

Next, ref1 seizes upon a quote from a page on which Gage says that controlled demolition, or evidence of same, “was clearly outside the scope of our training and experience” – by which, Gage apparently means, outside the training and experience of most architects and engineers in general, not just Gage himself. However, ref1 uses it to single out Gage as being unqualified.

I should point out here that even architects are required to study at least a year of physics in college. Hence, relative to the average citizen, Gage does have more of the background necessary at least to begin to understand the technical issues invovled.

For that very reason, I’m also hopeful that Gage will be receptive to physics-literate critique, at least from people who support his overall goals and are not trying to tear him down. He needs to make more time for himself to process such critique.

Back to ref1’s article. Next is a section titled “The AE911Truth Petition & Growth of AE911Truth.org.” Here, ref1 quotes Gage as saying, in his letter to Mark Weitzman, “our membership of architects, engineers, and other building professionals … is growing exponentially.”

In what is apparently an attempt to prove that Gage cannot do math, ref1 then takes known membership figures on several dates (May 28, 2007; October 16, 2007; December 8, 2007; and December 27, 2007) and then draws a graph showing that the growth is not exponential but linear.

However, ref1 admits he has no reliable membership figures for any date in between May 28 and October 16, which is the bulk of the total time period from May 28 to December 27. So his interpolation of a straight line might not be the best guess. My guess is that growth in the number of verifiably licensed engineers and architects might have been sluggish during the summer and then picked up dramatically in early autumn. If so, that might be what gave Gage the impression of “exponential growth,” although it had leveled off by December. (Just about everything slows down in December, except holiday shopping.)

ref1 then devotes a paragraph to Doug Plumb, said to be AE911T’s “recruiter.” He cites a JREF thread in which someone’s email correspondence with Doug Plumb is quoted. Actually, in the quoted emails, Doug Plumb himself never claims the title “recruiter.” That term is used only by “peteweaver.” Plumb himself is quoted as saying, “Hi Peter, my name is Doug Plumb and I am helping Richard Gage verify members that have signed onto our site to filter out pranksters. Could you fax us something that shows your qualifications for verification?”

ref1 devotes most of that paragraph to certain opinions of Plumb’s which many people in the 9/11 Truth movement consider wacky, e.g. endorsing Judy Wood. ref1 thinks Plumb’s views are “interesting,” although, as ref1 himself admits, “he has said his views do not represent the views of AE911Truth.”

Next:

Update: The day after I wrote this article their membership of “building professionals” dropped from 231 to 230. It was discovered, that a man called Hans Van Willigenburg was on the membership list. His status was supposedly checked. However, Mr. Willigenburg is not an engineer or an architect.

So? ref1 then displays Hans Van Willigenburg’s “user profile,” in which Willigenburg never claims to be an engineer or an architect in the first place, but only a “student.” Most likely he had just been mis-classified by the person maintaining the lists on the website. Glitches like this are inevitable in an organization run by volunteers on a shoestring budget.

After that, there’s a long section griping about the fact that AE911T solicits donations. Among other things, ref1 says, referring to this page on the AE911T site:

Taking People to Lunch?

This is a completely new way of making money, courtesy of AE911Truth. Taking A/E firms to lunch.

It’s one of the things AE911T spends money on, and which donors are asked to help pay for. ref1 implies that there’s something puzzling about this, but I see nothing puzzling about it at all.

After that is a section titled “Changing Methods?” in which ref1 notes an inconsistent attitude toward some folks who painted the URL of AE911T’s website somewhere, condemning it at one point, then praising it later. I’ll try to find out what the story is on this.

Next is a section titled “What About the Wrong Demolition Audio?” about a video that was formerly used in Gage’s presentation, and which was discovered to have had an altered soundtrack. ref1 says:

I have asked Richard Gage about this. He has not responded. But he has responded to another person asking the same question. His response: His slide presentation was put together by a committee, not by Richard Gage himself. They claim to be looking into the matter.

“Another person asking the same question” was me. (See the comment threads following my posts The 9/11 Truth movement and me: Further reply to Pat Curley and Richard Gage’s slide show, WTC 7 section: Reply to charlienneb.)

That “his slide presentation was put together by a committee” was my inference, not Gage’s own statement. What Gage actually sent me was an email CC’d to an email address containing the word “team.” If I recall correctly, Gage’s email contained a forward of my original message to him, above which he wrote something like, “Could someone please look into this?” and then thanked me for bringing the matter to his attention.

At the end is a section titled, “Richard Gage: The Activist,” in which ref1 summarizes his personal attacks on Gage. His main point is, apparently, “Sounds more like your average rank-and-file activist than an expert, don’t you agree?”

Gage’s organization does aim to bring experts together, and I intend to do what I can to help him do that, in part by encouraging better quality control.

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9 Comments »

  1. Hi Diane.

    I used only sources available on public internet sites. Anyway, people have been through his claims so many times, I only chose to address a couple of more bizarre claims. And how is that attacking a personality anyway? He uses FDNY foreknowledge as evidence of CD. I claim Gage has no knowledge. Where is the difference? Has Gage ever spoken to a single firefighter who was there? I doubt it. When FDNY Chief Scheuermann was in Gage’s presentation attendance Gage did his best to avoid confrontation with him.

    Anyway, it was surprising he does not give out more of his detailed work experience in his site, since he is the leader of Architects & E’s and remembers to mention his AIA connection every time. So his experience was publicly available and I wrote about it. There was not even a single negative comment other than “no high-rises” if you count that as a negative. I don’t think that’s stalking. Truthers have gone through Bazant’s experience. The WAC kids have harrassed innocent people in the streets and their doorsteps, yelling “9/11 was an inside job”. Now THAT’S creepy and stalking. And I’m glad I’m not associated in any way with that kind of people, not even in the same “movement”.

    My Who Influence Who -article shows only Griffin as Gage’s influence, because Griffin’s views made Gage start a 9/11 Truth episode in his life. But I should draw lines from Hoffman and Jones as well. Good point.

    Anyway, I have no interest in debunking anymore. I’m gonna retire from this soon. I might write a couple more things but then you can have your playground.

    Adios.

    Comment by ref1 — March 6, 2008 @ 4:05 pm | Reply

  2. ref1 wrote:

    The WAC kids have harrassed innocent people in the streets and their doorsteps, yelling “9/11 was an inside job”. Now THAT’S creepy and stalking.

    Indeed I do not agree with WAC’s tactics.

    But I should point out that 9/11 Truth activists have gotten harassed too, at least here in New York. Furthermore, the 9/11 Truth activists who have gotten harassed have tended to be the ones with the most reasonable approach. I don’t know who, exactly, is doing the harassing. I just know that I myself am, apparently a likely target, which is one of the reasons why I guard my privacy.

    It’s also one of the reasons why I personally get a little weirded out when I see someone’s workplace and other identifying details of one’s personal background being highlighted in a hostile context. It’s almost as if the person doing the highlighting is saying, “you want to make trouble for this person? Here’s how.”

    The above was probably not your intent. And I don’t know whether Richard Gage is in any real danger of being harassed at his workplace. Things may be different on the West Coast.

    Comment by Diane — March 6, 2008 @ 6:38 pm | Reply

  3. No hostility was my intent. I actually saw the CV posted on another forum and picked it from there. I admit, I considered a long time whether to post the link or not. I still wonder, whether to remove the link or not. Anyway, it was (and is) publicly available and googleable for everybody. That’s why I finally chose to let it be there.

    I am also always open to suggestions. The workplace and contact info is of no importance. That part of the article was about the experience, nothing else.

    Comment by ref1 — March 6, 2008 @ 7:33 pm | Reply

  4. If you do not want to risk being in any way responsible for the possibility of anything untoward happening to Gage, I would suggest removing the information about his specific workplaces, past and present. To make your point, all you need to say is what kinds of buildings he has been involved in the design of. No need to belabor the point for a full 25% of your article, complete with a bunch of stalker-friendly info. Yes it’s publicly available info, but repeating it makes it more public and puts it in a potentially inflammatory context.

    Comment by Diane — March 6, 2008 @ 11:55 pm | Reply

  5. I don’t think me repeating anything that is already public makes me responsible for anything. Especially, since I don’t point anyone to do anything to anybody.

    Anyway, I decided to soften it up.

    I have removed the link to the CV. I have also removed any names of the firms he works or has worked for. But I have left in the projects he has participated in. I think that’s fair enough.

    Comment by ref1 — March 7, 2008 @ 8:13 am | Reply

  6. Diane – thanks for catching those posts, and thanks for removing them ref1. It’s a lot of information to try to critique (Gage’s work) and the tendency can be to focus on the person and not the work because that’s where our emotions can most easily be engaged and satisfied.

    Comment by reader21 — March 8, 2008 @ 12:47 am | Reply

  7. What ref1 removed was not “posts” but some specific identifying personal information about Richard Gage, from an otherwise unmodified article about Gage. I was concerned about this matter for the sake of Gage’s personal safety.

    Anyhow, ref1, thanks for removing the resume link and the names of Gage’s past and current employers.

    Comment by Diane — March 8, 2008 @ 12:54 am | Reply

  8. I emailed Richard Gage in June of 2007. It was regarding a 36 page report by Frank Greening PhD on the potential energy of World Trade Center towers. The last half of that paper contained some rather complex calculations and I dreaded having to brush up on my math just to get through them, I was not looking forward to it. But Greening made an inexcusably absurd mistake on page 3. I emailed Greening and Gage about this. Gage responded saying I was correct but I never heard from Greening.

    Greening’s calculations were based on the assumption that the towers were 110 stories tall and that each story was the same weight. He had just divided the total mass by 110. But it is IMPOSSIBLE to build a skyscraper that way. The lower levels must support the tremendous combined weights of the upper levels and this greater strength means a greater weight of steel. So the building must get lighter toward the top. So Greening’s calculations assume too much mass too high therefore his Potential Energy calculations had to be wrong.

    In addition to that he ignored the basement levels of the towers. There were 6 basement levels and of course they had to support the entire 110 floors above them so they must have had a considerable amount of steel and concrete. I created an analogy with blocks explaining all of this.

    Richard Gage responded saying I was correct, but this issue brings up the distribution of mass and therefore steel and concrete in the towers. In order for the towers to come down in less than 15 seconds the lighter top portion would have to crush the heavier lower portion and accelerate at the same time. This is totally absurd, but as an architect Gage should be talking about theTONS of STEEL and TONS of CONCRETE on every level of the towers. I haven’t seen any mention of that in his videos on YouTube or his website. I emailed him again but got no response. This should clarify things for the non-engineers and non-physicist in the audience. Unless the EXPERTS just want people to BELIEVE IN different AUTHORITY but not actually understand the physics of what could not possibly have happened.

    There are two links that go with the above WHICH ARE NOT VIDEOS.

    Sorry I didn’t read your rules. Most people just have stuff about swearing and insulting people and illegal activities which I am not interested in anyway so I usually don’t read the rules. I had not encountered a no videos rule before. Apparently you have set your system to discard posts with links. At least from me.

    Comment by psikeyhackr — April 27, 2008 @ 12:16 am | Reply

  9. The system here isn’t set to discard posts with links. A post with more than one link is automatically put in the moderation queue and thus will be delayed in going through, but is not discarded.

    Anyhow, thanks for the very interesting information you provided, above.

    Comment by Diane — May 3, 2008 @ 10:08 pm | Reply


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