9 - 1 1 R e s e a r c h essays

The Open Civil Engineering Journal's Historic Step
Appeals to Authority, Peer Review,
and the WTC Collapse Theory

Jim Hoffman

Version 0.8, Apr. 29, 2008


In the first issue of its second volume, The Open Civil Engineering Review published Fourteen Points of Agreement with Official Government Reports on the World Trade Center Destruction . The article's title doesn't convey its full significance: Two of its five authors, Steven E. Jones, and Kevin R. Ryan, are accomplished scientists who were forced to leave long-term career positions because of their courageous work challenging the official account of the 9/11 attack. The article stands as a counter-example to a frequently-cited defense of the official account of the destruction of the World Trade Center -- the assertion that there are no peer-reviewed independent articles in scientific or engineering journals challenging the premise that the three skyscrapers collapsed due to structural and fire damage stemming from the 767 impacts.

In this essay I will underscore the significance of this publication by suggesting that appeals to authority are a pillar of the official story, and that peer-reviewed articles such as Fourteen Points of Agreement ... can go a long way toward disabusing people of the notion that the collapse theory is scientific simply because the mainstream scientific and engineering journals had heretofore failed to point out its fallacies.

Appeals to Authority

Appeals to authority are logical fallacies in which the speaker cites a purported authority or expert as proof of an assertion. Appeals to authority, along with other logical fallacies such as appeals to common belief, appeals to ridicule, and straw man arguments are cornerstones of the official account of the 9/11/01 attack. The most-often-cited works attacking alternative views of the 9/11/01 events, such as Popular Mechanics', rely on such fallacies, and those truly needing reassurance can read essays hundreds of pages long that repeatedly invoke appeals to authority, such as Ryan Mackey's defense of NIST's investigation, which he implies has the support of "literally tens of thousands of professionals in virtually every category".

Appeals to authority are critical to maintaining the official or "consensus view" that Arab extremists destroyed the World Trade Center because so many people recognize that the destruction of those buildings exhibit the characteristics of controlled demolitions. I suspect that this tension between what is obvious to people on the basis of common sense, and what is endorsed by opinion leaders and the "experts", is a key component of the psychological operation of 9/11, by functioning as a disincentive to critical thinking. Emanuel Sferios articulated this view in 2006:

What is important to remember here is that propaganda of this sort is not designed to fool critical thinkers, but to provide conforming individuals with a reason not to start thinking critically. Thus the total destruction of the World Trade Center in such a dramatic yet obvious way was, in my opinion, an essential, psychological component of the operation.
9/11 Five Years Later: What Have We Accomplished?

Peer Review

Peer review in the context of scientific or technical journals is the process of refereeing articles submitted for publication by subjecting them to reviews by experts in appropriate fields. although peer review is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for for the exercise of the scientific method, it has been a useful tool for enforcing it, and it's difficult to deny the effectiveness of the scientific method.

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