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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

David Menzies and Ron Craig Debunk WTC Demolition*

*Not

For the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, David Menzies of Rebel Media interviewed explosives expert Ron Craig, resulting in the umteen-thousandth time a so-called "expert" tried (and failed) to debunk the evidence for controlled demo-lition of the WTC. Mr. Menzies discusses seven "myths" raised by members of the Truth Movement, to which Ron gave his opinion of each. Let's see what Ron has to offer this year, shall we?


Myth 1: Scientific Evidence Explosives Were Used

According to Ron, the Movement's case for controlled demolition rests "basically on two things: photographic evidence... and personal testimonials." Yes Ron, that's all our case is "basically" based on. It couldn't be that our case is also based on peer-reviewed data, discussing topics such as the forensic evidence at Ground Zero, or detailed mathe-matical models and analyses of the collapse mechanics of the buildings. No, it must just be what the buildings looked like and what people said about them. Straw, meet man. But dealing with the points Ron does raise, the physical characteristics of the buildings' collapses, while not definitive proof, are nonetheless evidence for demolition, given that no building collapse in history has exhibited every feature shown by the WTC Towers outside of controlled demolitions (see my discussion in "Other Collapses in Perspective," especially pp. 24-25). 

Ron's second point is in regards to the sounds of explosions attested to by eyewitnesses at Ground Zero. And we're given the oh-so original rebuttal that "there are lots of noises that are unexplainable, but that doesn't mean it was explosives." Well, Ronny boy might have a point, except that, again, we're not basing our case only on what people said. Does he honestly think we haven't considered this argument before? As we've explained in detail, prosaic explanations for these sounds can be ruled out once factors such as physical effects, location, and energy levels are taken into account and examined (see my discussion in "Collapse or Explosion?," especially pp. 14-21).


Myth 2: Thermite Cut Steel Columns

The second "mythology" about 9/11 Ron takes a crack at is thermite being used to demolish the structures. Amusingly, he doesn't even address the issue actually being raised by David Menzies; whether or not thermite could have been used to demolish the Towers. Perhaps it's because Ron is well aware of thermite's explosive capabilities when formulated correctly, a fact that is well documented. Perhaps he's also aware that even ordinary un-explosive thermate can effectively cut through steel beams. 

Regardless, the point he focuses on instead is over whether or not there could have been rivers of molten steel at Ground Zero. Ron thinks not, since, according to him, "for steel to melt there has to be a constant heat." In essence, he argues that there couldn't "possibly be a river of material running for thirty days under the WTC buildings," since it would have solidified early on in the debris. I can buy that Ron's a fine explosive expert (maybe), but he's a lousy chemist. The argument isn't that the metal continued to be molten without a heat source. Rather, the residues from the thermite reactions continued reacting underneath the debris piles, in effect creating a "witch's brew" of ongoing chemical reactions which created the molten metal and continued to heat it. There is indeed evidence for energetic materials and reactions at Ground Zero, documented in some more of that pesky peer-reviewed scientific literature Ron apparently doesn't know about.

Despite actual forensic evidence, numerous photographs, and a sizable number of eyewitnesses to the molten pools at Ground Zero, Ron says that our "proof" of molten metal is actually a photo of firefighters looking into a hole, filled not with molten metal, but simply being lit by a search light. Yes, Ron actually thinks we still use the photo Steven Jones mistakenly thought was a photo of molten metal. Welcome to 2015 Mr. Craig. Maybe you haven't read Steven Jones' latest edition of his paper that lacks this photo. Do try and keep up Ron. In that same paper, Dr. Jones explains that the length of time the metal continued to glow is consistent with molten iron:
[T]he observed surface of this metal is still reddish-orange some six weeks after 9-11. This implies a large quantity of a metal with fairly low heat conductivity and a relatively large heat capacity (e.g., iron is more likely than aluminum) even in an underground location. Like magma in a volcanic cone, such metal might remain hot and molten for a long time -- once the metal is sufficiently hot to melt in large quantities and then kept in a fairly-well insulated underground location. Moreover, as hypothesized below, thermite reactions may well have resulted in substantial quantities (observed in pools) of molten iron at very high temperatures – initially above 2,000 °C (3,632 °F). At these temperatures, various materials entrained in the molten metal pools will continue to undergo exothermic reactions which would tend to keep the pools hot for weeks despite radiative and conductive losses.
Kidding aside, I find it very hard to believe Ron isn't aware of any of this. The evidence for molten metal pools and extreme heat at Ground Zero has been thoroughly documented by members of the Movement, and for him to think we rely on that one photo is baffling to me. Remeber, this man claims to have debunked the WTC demolition theory, meaning that he supposedly studied the Movement's arguments and is thus up-to-date with what those arguments are. But no, he's here instead addressing points which are now over nine years old. It's either a case of sloppy research of our claims, or willful deception on his part. Get our arguments right Ron, or don't bother addressing them at all.


Myth 3: People Inside Towers Were Blown Off Their Feet

Next we move on to people inside the buildings experiencing explosions, which Ron tries to say was actually just the result of the planes impacting the buildings. In a moment that made me seriously question if he's actually read the NIST report on the Towers, Ron suggests that the planes were travelling at 700 mph when they struck the buildings. Well, that'd be news to NIST, who puts the plane speeds at around 440 mph for Flight 11 and 540 mph for Flight 175 (NIST NCSTAR 1-2, p. lxxiii). Moreover, Ron argues that no one at the WTC experienced injuries and effects consistent with the occurrence of explosives, when in fact numerous individuals, both inside and outside the buildings, did experience just that, effects which fit the description of explosive events perfectly (see "Collapse or Explosion?," pp. 17-18). Likewise, we know from the testimony of Barry Jennings that he and Michael Hess experienced at least one explosion in Building 7, and while critics have attempted to explain away this event as just debris from WTC1, such claims have been found to be groundless (Ibid. pp. 23-25).


Myth 4: Clouds of Dust Prove Explosives Were Used

We're then treated to a discussion of the ejections of dust and debris from the Towers, and here I'm now wondering not only if Ron's read the NIST reports, but also if he's even bothered to watch videos of the collapses. He correctly notes that the buildings contained an enormous amount of drywall, which could account for the dust being crushed at the collapse front. However, this does nothing to explain the horizontal ejections of dust multiple stories below where the buildings are collapsing. If the collapsing mass at the collapse front is producing the dust up top, then what's producing the dust further down twenty to forty stories? 


He also asserts that "explosives would have ejected out three or four hundred feet past the pattern that we saw, which was just dust coming down and debris." I'm honestly at a loss here. Videos and photographs of the Tower collapses show that large sections of steel were thrown hundreds of feet away from the Towers. Even NIST acknowledges this much, writing that "fragments [from WTC1] were forcibly ejected and traveled distances up to hundreds of meters" (NIST NCSTAR 1A, p. 16). Is the point he's making supposed to be that the debris didn't travel out past the dust clouds? What we see in the videos is the debris shooting out and trailing dust as it moves outside the buildings' perimeters. Which is, you know, kinda what happens when explosives are set off. Remember Ron, explosives? Those things you're supposed to be an expert on? Likewise, analyses show that smaller debris from the Towers were ejected out as much as 1/4 of a mile away from the buildings (see Crockett Grabbe, "Direct Evidence for Explosions," pp. 3-5).


Myth 5: Building 7 Had No Damage But Still Collapsed Proves Explosives Were Used

Up next we get a discussion of our so-called "Holy Grail" of conspiracy topics, World Trade Center 7. I should mention that the titles I've been giving these sections are from Mr. Menzies' video, not my wording. It's another nice little straw-man strategy employed, since you won't find any informed truther tell you that Building 7 had no structural damage. Of course the building was damaged, but the question is whether or not that damage was sufficient to cause collapse. We in the Movement say no, but Ron thinks otherwise, noting that "new photographic evidence" shows that there was "considerable damage... to the rear of the building that we didn't see before." As to what photos he's referring to, you're guess is as good as mine, since we're not shown them. Instead, we get a (not new) photo of Building 7 covered in smoke which, as I've explained before, is most likely coming from the still burning WTC complex, not the building itself (see my response to Chris Mohr, pp. 133-136).

I can only assume that he's referring to the photos that were released back in 2010, which did indeed show some new shots of Building 7 from the south side. What Ron doesn't mention is that these photos actually showed the building's south side was less damaged than previously thought. Sorta important detail to overlook , but whatever. 

Ron then tells us that "conspiracy theorists will tell us that office fires are not very hot." Yes, "conspiracy theorists" will say that. Never mind that some of these people are also fire protection engineers. Or chemists like Kevin Ryan and Frank Greening, who have written that:
[R]aising those five floor beams [in Building 7] to a temperature of 600 °C would require an enormous amount of energy, far more than was available from the burning of the office furnishings underneath the floor beams. --Kevin Ryan
NIST’s collapse initiation hypothesis requires that structural steel temperatures on floors 12/13 significantly exceeded 300 °C - a condition that could never have been realized with NIST’s postulated 32 kg/m2 fuel loading. --Frank Greening
You see Ron, our argument is not that the fires were not hot, but that they weren't hot enough to cause collapse. And given that more severe fires in other skyscrapers have never caused those skyscrapers to collapse, it doesn't sound that far-fetched to assume the fires in Building 7 shouldn't have caused it to collapse either. Again, this would all go so much smoother if you actually framed our arguments correctly Ron.


Myth 6: No Steel Frame Building Has Ever Collapsed From Fire

The interview continues with Ron addressing the issue of no steel-framed high-rise skyscrapers ever collapsing from fire. Oh wait, I'm sorry, that's the correct version of our argument, not the straw-man version cooked up by Mr. Menzies and Mr. Craig. My mistake. No, instead these gentlemen decide to frame the argument as no steel buildings in general have ever collapsed from fire, to which Ron offers the rebuttal that "steel-framed buildings collapse all the time." One of the reasons I've already written so much on these topics is that I hoped I wouldn't have to keep repeating myself, but ah, no such luck. Our argument is not "steel can't collapse from fire." As I've written elsewhere ("Other Collapses," pp.1-2):
A common misconception about this argument regarding other steel skyscrapers not collapsing is that it implies that steel cannot under any circumstances fail from being weakened by fire. But this idea is incorrect. Steel, while very strong, is not immune to the effects of fire, which is why fire-proofing is applied to many steel structures. The main argument that is really being presented is this: other steel-framed high-rise skyscrapers have never collapsed from fires that, upon careful examination, appear to be far more severe than the fires exhibited in the WTC buildings. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that the WTC buildings should not have collapsed from the types of fires that were seen on 9/11.
And as I also pointed out (Ibid. pp. 3-4): 
When one examines the list of other steel structures that have collapsed from fire that are often cited by critics of the 9/11 Truth Movement, one thing immediately catches the eye: almost none of them are high-rise skyscrapers... If we are to draw comparisons between the WTC skyscrapers and other structures, then we would logically want to compare them to other skyscrapers.
To be fair, Ron almost corrects himself by noting that "they [truthers] are really saying large steel-framed buildings." Close, but not quite. Say it with me Ron: high-rise steel-framed skyscrapers. By generalizing the examples as "large steel buildings," Ron can point to practically any building he wants as a counter example. And indeed he does just that, by citing one of the debunker favorites; the Faculty of Architecture Building in the Netherlands. Debunkers like this example so much because it shows a top-down collapse due to fire. Yet they, like Ron, overlook a number of important details, which I've outlined in my previously mentioned "Other Collapses" article (pp. 17-18).
  • The building burned much longer than either of the Towers 
  • The collapse was localized, leaving most of the main structure standing 
  • The building was constructed very differently from the Towers 
  • The collapse took approximately 10 seconds. Unlike many of the other structures referenced, we have several videos of this collapse, and they show that the collapse of the 13-story section took roughly 10 seconds from start to finish.[reference] However, the Twin Towers, which were each 110-storys tall, each collapsed in approximately 15 seconds.[reference] Building 7, a 47-story building, collapsed in less than seven seconds.[reference] This contrasts strongly with the collapse of the Faculty building. If the Towers and Building 7 were truly gravity driven collapses, as was the case for this incident, then we would expect them to have taken far longer to totally collapse than they actually did.
And, of course, this building wasn't a skyscraper. I've said it many times, and I'll say it again: the argument the Truth Movement is presenting is that fires in other steel-framed high-rise skyscrapers have never caused those buildings to collapse, and since the fires in the Twin Towers and Building 7 appeared to be less severe than the fires in these other skyscrapers, it's reasonable to judge that the Towers and Building 7 should not have collapsed either. That's the argument  Ron. Either learn it, or don't bother addressing it if you can't.


Myth 7: Stream of Sparks Prove High Energy Event Took Place Outside of Fire


We finally finish up strawmana-palooza with a discussion of the stream of molten metal seen flowing out of the South Tower. Silly me, I forgot this is supposed to be David and Ron's version of the Truth Movement's argument. So as Ron puts it, "we see sparks being ejected from one of the floors of the building." Yes, that's right, sparks. Not, as the videos show, glowing molten metal (i.e. liquid metal). That's a tad bit different than just "sparks." Details, but important. And Ron's explanation for these so-called "sparks" is that "whenever there's a fire you'll see mysterious things... but, in fact, as a firefighter I can tell you there are many things that will eject streams." And as to what those things are, we're given one example of a heated metal suitcase handle reacting to water being sprayed on it. Again, this might have produced sparks, but I doubt this produced a stream of liquid metal that stayed molten and glowing after falling almost a hundred stories. 

As to what type of metal was pouring out of the Tower, I've heard only two suggestions that have any viability: aluminum and lead, neither of which would have resembled what we saw coming out of the building under those circumstances. Ron is technically right that it hasn't been proven that the material was produced by thermite, but that's the whole reason we're calling for a new investigation; so that it can be investigated what that material most likely was, not simply hand-waved away as something "mysterious." And wouldn't you know it, the NFPA 921 Guide for Fire and Explosive Investigations just happens to mention that thermite should be tested as a possible accelerate in a building fire (NFPA 921, 18.4.5 and 22.2.4). Perhaps, as a firefighter, you should know this too Ron.


One Last Question

After finishing up his "debunking," Ron is asked by Mr. Menzies what he thinks it is that motivates us to hold the beliefs we do. His answer is rather typical of debunkers who can't see anything past the label of "conspiracy theorist." 
Every conspiracy theorist is emotionally invested in the argument that the United States government caused it. And if you scratch any 9/11 conspiracy site with a coin, what you're going to find are people that have a deep dislike for the United States, the policies of the United States, and particularly the president of the time, George W. Bush. So they keep working tirelessly to try and find evidence that indicates that the government was involved. But there's no scientific proof whatsoever that explosives or thermite brought those buildings down, and yet they keep insisting that they did. It's quite incredible to me.
Well, there you have it folks, the typical stereotyping laid out for us. We hate America, its policies, and the president. Nothing more needs to be said apparently. It never seems to occur to these people that maybe, just maybe, we actually do care deeply about the thousands of people who lost their lives that day, and want to get to the bottom of one of the worst crimes ever committed on United States soil.  But for the close-minded types like Ron and Dave, that can't be a possibility. It also can't be a possibility that we actually do have good scientific evidence that those buildings were demolished with explosives. But I suppose if you employ Ron's strategy of ignoring and misrepresenting the opposition's side, then you can pretty much refute anything you want. Of course, by no means is Ron the first to use this strategy. He just particularly sucks at it.


Another Last Question For Mr. Craig

From me, in fact. Mr. Craig, would you be so kind as to stop misrepresenting the Truth Movement's arguments and actually address what we say? That'd be great, thanks.