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

Steven E. Jones
A Physics Professor Speaks Out on 9-11:
Reason, Publicity, and Reaction

by
Victoria Ashley

Version 1.0, Jan. 14, 2006


revision history
1/2/06: 911Research publishes Version 0.9 of this essay
1/14/06: 911Research publishes Version 1.0 of this essay

Introduction

This paper reviews and compares some of the initial media coverage and criticisms of BYU physics professor Steven E. Jones' research paper, Why Indeed Did the WTC Buildings Collapse? In his paper, Jones calls for an investigation of the World Trade Center skyscrapers' collapses that seriously considers the hypothesis of controlled demolition. The decision of a professor of science to come forward with such a proposal is unprecedented, as is the story's coverage by a mainstream news program on cable TV: MSNBC's Situation with Tucker Carlson. The closest precedent in the history of the 9/11 Truth Movement was the CSPAN-2 coverage of theology professor David Ray Griffin's speech, 9/11 and the American Empire: How Should Religious People Respond?. Both Jones and Griffin have added considerable credibility to the independent investigation of 9/11 through their scholarly approaches. In particular, Steven Jones brings to bear his 20 years of experience and peer-reviewed research in the field of physics.

Interestingly, a number of well-funded and slick propaganda campaigns purporting to expose 9/11 truth have had little or no impact in mainstream venues (except to act as magnets for disparaging reviews). In contrast, Jones' simply crafted paper received a genuine and unbiased hearing from local media, and surprisingly respectful coverage on a mainstream cable program. Thus, Jones' efforts introduced credible challenges to the official story to large new audiences of critically thinking people.

Jones' work contrasts with the propagandistic productions which rely on theatrical antics, hip sound tracks, and sleights of hand. The style of such productions is mirrored in their content -- a mixture of sensational claims (pods, missiles and aircraft other than commercial jets impacting the buildings) mixed with real unanswered questions. Such unsupported claims, while designed to excite naive viewers, are inevitably debunked with time, and thus serve to inoculate the public against taking 9/11 truth efforts seriously.

The thesis of controlled demolition -- the focus of Jones' paper -- is a key component in exposing the truth of the 9/11 attacks since, unlike most of the other aspects of 9/11, one cannot suggest that a building demolition was a mistake or a surprise: someone had to have intentionally planned and executed it, by definition. Accepting the demolition thesis leads inescapably to the conclusion that the 9/11 events were orchestrated by people who had the access and means to rig the buildings -- i.e.: insiders. In this first paper by Jones, he does not claim to know who could have rigged the buildings, but limits his focus to the collapse events, end products, and critique of the official analyses.

In this paper I will review coverage by both mainstream print/TV news and Internet news sites. I will also examine some recent propagandistic productions in relation to Jones' work.

Table of Contents

Steven Jones' Paper

Steven Jones' 2005 paper, Why Indeed Did the WTC Buildings Collapse?, calls for a "serious investigation of the hypothesis that WTC 7 and the Twin Towers were brought down, not just by damage and fires, but through the use of pre-positioned explosives," and includes key points which Jones and many others feel have not been addressed by the FEMA, NIST, or 9-11 Commission Reports.

Jones highlights several anomalies in the collapse events, and underscores deficiencies in the official explanations, including:

  • Symmetry of the collapses
  • Speed of the collapses
  • Characteristics of dust jets
  • Reports of molten metal in the debris piles
  • Failures of the official collapse theories

Jones' paper efficiently gets these points across and he uses key passages from the official reports to expose their inadequacies. For example, Jones cites these NIST statements:

"To the extent that the simulations deviated from the photographic evidence or eyewitness reports [e.g., complete collapse occurred], the investigators adjusted the input, but only within the range of physical reality. Thus, for instance, the pulling forces on the perimeter columns by the sagging floors were adjusted..." (NIST, 2005, p. 142; emphasis added.)

Jones then elucidates the effect of these actions:

How fun to tweak the model like that, until the building collapses -- until one gets the desired result. But the end result of such tweaked computer hypotheticals is not compelling, sorry gentlemen.

Throughout the paper, Jones reiterates the importance of viewing the videos:

If you still haven't looked at the rapid symmetrical collapse of WTC7 for yourself, why not do so now?

Jones highlights the video clips of the WTC Building 7 collapse in which that building falls straight down. He uses a colloquial tone, appropriate for the varied public audience on the Internet expected to view the paper, and includes the fact that his students have participated in the measurements and observations of the phenomena:

What did you observe?

Symmetry: did the building collapse straight down (nearly symmetrically) -- or did it topple over?

Speed: How fast did the building fall? (Students and I measure less than 6.6 seconds; time it!)

Importantly, Jones also overtly addresses the issue of disinformation within the 9/11 movement, particularly the theory that commercial jets did not hit the WTC towers, an idea being widely promoted on websites and via free DVDs.

For example, there is a notion that something other than Boeing jetliners hit the WTC Towers (see Hoffman, 2005; Chertoff, 2005). Scrutiny of photographs and videos provides compelling evidence that jet[liner]s did in fact hit these buildings (Hoffman, 2005; Chertoff, 2005).

Jones' willingness to dissociate his analysis from "poorly-supported claims" has earned him ad hominem attacks from the no-plane contingent.

Early Publicity

The two initial reports in the media about Jones' paper and hypotheses were straightforward and unbiased, treating the story like any other story one might see on the local news. This was unexpected in the 9/11 movement, given that questioning 9/11 has typically earned demeaning attacks from sources ranging from the Nation to the Wall Street Journal to the editors of the NYC and DC Indymedia websites.

'Y. professor thinks bombs, not planes, toppled WTC'
By Elaine Jarvik
Deseret Morning News
Thursday, November 10, 2005
http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,635160132,00.html

The Deseret News article is calm and informative, respectful of Jones' experience and statements. Instead of being demeaning and attaching conspiracy labels, Jarvik treats Jones like any other professor proposing a theory in the news. In just the first sentence the author succinctly combines the most compelling features of the collapses with the fact that a person of note is using physics to analyze them:

Steven Jones in front of images from the slide show he created (photo: Deseret Morning News)
The physics of 9/11, including how fast and symmetrically one of the World Trade Center buildings fell, prove that official explanations of the collapses are wrong, says a Brigham Young University physics professor.

The author even describes the fact that Jones is joining others in his questions:

Jones adds his voice to those of previous skeptics

At the same time, importantly, the author also distinguishes Jones from those who have been mocked in the mainstream press:

Jones acknowledges that there have been "junk science" conspiracy theories about what happened on 9/11, but "the explosive demolition hypothesis better satisfies tests of repeatability and parsimony and therefore is not 'junk science.' "

Thus a serious mainstream news article was added to the few in the history of the 9/11 Truth Movement.

'BYU Professor Has Theory About 9/11 Attacks'
KUTV News Video
Nov 10, 2005 9:42 pm US/Mountain
http://kutv.com/topstories/local_story_314234334.html

Similarly to the Deseret Morning News article, the KUTV video about Jones, on November 10th, does not include a single derogatory or mocking comment but simply records the points Jones makes about the collapses. The description of Jones' hypothesis is termed "a new theory," not even the typical slander of a "conspiracy theory," often used by mainstream press to frame anything other than the official story as nutty before it is even described.

(KUTV) PROVO, Utah A BYU professor has developed a new theory about the terrorist attack in New York on September 11, 2001. He believes planes alone did not bring down the World Trade Center.

Other Media Republishing the Story

At least two other news sources picked up the story and republished the ideas -- the Pittsburgh Tribune Review (in a column by Bill Steigerwald), and The Vermont Guardian, a relatively new publication in Vermont. Bill Steigerwald wrote a review more typical of the mainstream press, cautiously alluding to praise for Jones while keeping one foot in the camp of disbelief. Nonetheless, Steigerwald was relatively benign in his criticisms and had the courage to speak out for the truth in a venue which essentially ignored the story -- the mainstream press.

'Jonesing on conspiracy theories'
By Bill Steigerwald
Pittsburgh Tribune Review
Sunday, November 20, 2005
http://pittsburghlive.com/x/tribune-review/opinion/columnists/steigerwald/s_395972.html

Professor Jones really did his science homework. He supplies links to slow-motion video of collapsing buildings, discuses their well-engineered innards at length and doggedly critiques the official explanation. Jones isn't the first to make this shocking/unbelievable claim (see wtc7.net). But it's hard to imagine anyone making it clearer.

'Physics prof backs WTC demolition theory'
Vermont Guardian
http://www.vermontguardian.com/dailies/112005/1122.shtml

In a paper posted online Nov. 7 and accepted for peer-reviewed publication next year, Brigham Young University (BYU) physics professor Steven E. Jones claims that the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings contradicts the official explanations and points to "pre-positioned explosives."

Tucker Carlson's The Situation

Tucker Carlson (photo: CNN.com)

'Questioning what happened on 9/11'
'The Situation with Tucker Carlson'
MSNBC
TRANSCRIPT
Updated: 1:10 p.m. ET Nov. 16, 2005
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10053445/

Professor believes planes didn't cause all the damage around the WTC Nov. 14: Did planes really bring down the World Trade Center? The Situation's Tucker Carlson talks to one professor who says he has evidence that bombs might have been planted in the towers.

'9/11 theorist clearly hits a nerve' (Tucker Carlson)
November 16, 2005 | 9:16 a.m. ET
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8063563/#051116a

While the Tucker Carlson interview of Jones was relatively benign, Carlson's entry in his associated blog (quickly spread around the internet) described his decision to host Steven Jones as 'a mistake:'

When one of my producers first told me about him, my first thought was: Stephen Jones is insane. And he may be. On the other hand, he does have a legitimate job and a responsible-sounding title. He's not living in the park, or writing me letters in crayon. How crazy could he really be? In the interest of open-mindedness, we booked him. That was probably a mistake.

However, Carlson's actual behavior during the interview, aside from one or two statements, was neither derogatory nor attacking. Carlson responded to Jones with phrases like, 'OK,' and "Well that's good," and concluded with "We appreciate you coming on, even if I don't understand your theories, we appreciate you trying to explain them. Thanks."

Apparently, Carlson and MSNBC's role in the piece was to shield the audience from any of the telling collapse videos of WTC 7 while providing official story explanations via still photos of the intact building prior to collapse. Interestingly, Carlson did include the primary point that distinguishes Building 7 -- that a plane never hit it, and that it collapsed.

MSNBC displayed this still image of WTC 7 as Jones repeatedly asked Carlson to roll the video of its collapse that he had supplied (one of the three listed here).
JONES: Tucker, sure, sure. Let's start with the collapse of Building seven. Can you roll the video clip that I sent to you?

CARLSON: OK. I am not sure if we can, but that is the World Trade Center. It's smaller than the other two it was not hit by a plane.

JONES: Let's try.

CARLSON: Of course, it collapsed.

JONES: Right. It's 47 stories.

CARLSON: That's right.

JONES: Twenty-four steel columns in the center.

CARLSON: Right.

JONES: Trusses, asymmetrically supported. Now, I can't see what you're seeing. Are we rolling that?

CARLSON: . . . And just so our viewers know, the explanation that I think is conventional is that there was a large tank of diesel fuel stored in the lower level of that, which caught fire, and the resulting fire collapsed the building.

Carlson's role is also to defend the position of Americans who believe the official story after he describes Jones' position that "Muslims are probably not to blame" for 9/11, and then adds, "That's, I would think, pretty offensive to a lot of the people listening. Do you have any evidence for that?"

JONES: Well, not-not to the Muslims, I might say.

CARLSON: Well, that's good.

JONES: I have a lot of e-mails.

CARLSON: I'm sure your writings greeted with just glee in Islamabad, and Peshawar and places like that. But for Americans.

Carlson's more interesting comments come on his blog the next day, where he writes in what would appear to be his 'persona' created to whip up an audience. Perhaps he is sincere, although it seems unlikely. Carlson writes:

If you saw last night's show, you know what an uncomfortable six minutes it was. If not, I'll summarize: Jones was almost totally incapable of explaining his own ideas. By the end of the interview I understood no more about his hypothesis than when it began. He was an epically bad guest. Yet - and here's the interesting part - he seemed to connect with huge number of viewers.

Carlson continues,

. . . the overwhelming majority wrote to thank me for my 'courage' in putting him on, and to complain that we didn't give him more time to explain the conspiracy.

And then, surprisingly, Carlson leaves this statement in as a single separate idea:

In other words, a lot of people seem to think it's possible that the U.S. government had a hand in bringing down the World Trade Center buildings.

In this way, Carlson does a service by actually describing the situation as it is, rather than trying to cover it up or ignore it, as most mainstream media do. As expected, however, he then goes on to attack those views later, although not against Jones, but against the email senders. Yet, even in this case, Carlson's claims sound so ludicrous that they appear to function only to whip up the necessary patriotic response and assume the expected position that no media can seriously question the official story of 9/11:

So of course most of the people who wrote to say they think the government might have been behind 9-11 don't really think the government might have been behind 9-11. For whatever reason, they just like to say so. Which as far as I'm concerned makes them phony and irresponsible.

Greg Szymanski's Arctic Beacon

In contrast to the reserved behavior of Tucker Carlson toward Jones, some of those who claim to be supporting 9/11 truth actually function primarily to provide ways to discredit the work of Jones and others by, among other techniques, highlighting weakest points and ignoring strongest points of evidence for controlled demolition.

Szymanski's Sour Grapes

Arctic Beacon's efforts to acquire a meaningful interview with Jones were not successful and so instead, Szymanski penned a rambling article focusing on Jones' personality, making cynical speculations about the inevitable outcome of Jones' efforts (Nov. 12th story titled, "Prof. Jones Talks To Arctic Beacon On WTC Demo") and re-linked on Rense.com ( (http://www.rense.com/general68/advice.htm).

The article quickly makes clear, with derogatory and misleading statements, that Szymanski is angered by Jones' decision not to give an interview:

Jones seems to have cut-off communications with the rest of the outside world, instead letting his 19 page report do the talking for him.

For Szymanski, Jones' decision not to be interviewed amounts to "cut-off communications with the rest of the outside world." Indeed, Jones is letting his report do the talking for him, but Szymanski appears not to be interested in its contents and instead emphasizes the details of his efforts to contact Jones.

Numerous calls to the number listed on his resume were met Friday by a strange sounding busy signal and emails requesting an interview sent to [Jones personal email] were returned undeliverable.

Rather than describing the content of Jones' paper, Szymanski focuses on Jones' personality as being "the prim, proper and conservative-looking BYU physics professor, coming out of the closet." Instead of underscoring Jones' courage to do what he has done, as even Tucker Carlson did, Szymanski prefers it appear that Jones was finally "letting his secret out." Szymanski then proceeds to create an image of Jones as naive throughout the piece, with statements like, "let's just say his quiet Utah world has ended forever with his decision to essentially tell the world the government is lying about 9/11," and, "it's rather interesting to note the innocence, almost schoolboy attitude exhibited by Professor Jones, as to why he finally decided to go public about 9/11."

Clearly, because Szymanski was not able to get an interview, he has chosen to focus on creating a character out of the professor while also predicting a grim future for him. Szymanski becomes increasingly cynical about the outcome of Jones' efforts:

. . . he's nothing but "media meat" to slice up every which way by those on both sides of the hotly contested 9/11 truth issue,

and,

So, it's really only a matter of time before he is somehow discredited for his views,

and,

And what will be accomplished? Well, in reality Jones will probably get frustrated of the constant harassment and soon slip back into academia.

and,

. . . he would like the government to turn over 6,899 photographs and 6,977 segments of video footage for "independent scrutiny". . . Fat chance!

and,

. . . it should be remembered for four long years, thousands before him have tried and failed.

Finally, Szymanski starts in on the threats of what Jones has coming to him in the future:

Jones should be prepared for some near death experiences of his own, since crossing the line with Daddy Bush is sometimes hazardous to one's health,

and,

. . . he is going to have a rude awakening when he tries to get anything, even a cup of coffee and a roll, from anyone close to the government after what he has said.

It would almost appear as though the function of this article is to intimidate Jones and others who refuse to accept the offer of an interview.

In a later article, ('BYU Brass Discredit Physics Professor for Saying WTC Brought Down by Controlled Demolition,' [ 29 Nov 2005] http://www.arcticbeacon.com/articles/article/1518131/38233.htm) Szymanski does bring up some of the points from Jones' paper, but the article itself is primarily about Jones' detractors at the university and precisely how they distance themselves from him.

Szymanski states:

Critics quickly pointed out that Jones must have been 'silenced quickly' after the Bush administration pressured BYU to end any further embarrassment while, at the same time, reminding officials about the numerous government grants swinging in the balance.

But Szymanski provides neither evidence for this claim nor names of critics cited, which seems typical of his reporting. Then, as if Jones didn't have enough to handle at the moment, he then had to publicly respond to these charges.

Steven Jones at work in his office (photo: Daily Universe)

'Censor rumors quelled'
By Ryan McIlvain
Daily Universe Staff Reporter - 5 Dec 2005
http://www.newsnet.byu.edu/story.cfm/57724

Reports that BYU administration put a gag order on Physics Professor Steven E. Jones are exaggerated, Jones said in a phone interview Friday. Jones seemed surprised to hear that he'd been censored. He too was unaware of an e-mail that was circulating claiming that "BYU Brass Discredit Physics Professor for Saying WTC Brought Down by Controlled Demolition." The e-mail quoted a "non-traditional" news Web site.

After a review of the various and shifting positions of those within the university, the author describes Jones' response.

In an effort to accommodate administration and others, Jones said he has modified his paper, and submitted it to another journal and another round of peer reviewing. He said he feels "a bit awkward" that some colleagues now question the peer review process his paper initially passed through. "My paper was peer-reviewed and accepted for publication before being made available on the Web with the editor's approval," Jones said. "The reviewers included a physicist and an engineer, I now understand. The review has not been shown to have been inappropriate and I believe it was appropriate."

Thus, by creating a story which included false claims about the Bush administration pressuring BYU, Szymanski caused Jones to have to publicly respond to exaggerated claims.

Appearance of Journalism

Along with inserting claims without actual evidence, techniques such as mixing together parts of what a witness says, choosing to report only what certain witnesses said, or distorting what witnesses say, are also used often by Christopher Bollyn, another writer who, like Szymanski, writes for American Free Press. Merging anonymous sources and statements of officials often lends unwarranted credence to the anonymous statements which then cannot be sourced to a particular person. However, exaggerated claims draw in readers to believe a hyped story, perhaps bringing more visits to Arctic Beacon or American Free Press.

Unfortunately, a reader needs to go through these articles with a fine-toothed comb to understand what was actually reported, and what only seemed to happen.

Unlike a professional journalist, who might ordinarily try to present both sides, Szymanski does not actually attempt to interview or highlight anyone who does support Jones, but instead, only highlights the exact quotes of the detractors. While this may just be sloppy journalism -- why bother to look up those 60 people who agreed with Jones when the article about his detractors will be an exciting read anyway? -- or it may be that Szymanski simply does not understand that he is mimicking the tactics of the biased mainstream press to present only one side.

Basement Bombs Setup?

In this same article, Szymanski ignores most of the actual content of the paper except to highlight a single type of evidence that supports a weaker component of the WTC demolition theory -- the 'explosions in the basements.'

Jones is correct in his conclusions since the Arctic Beacon has been one of the first to conduct interviews with many of those eye-witnesses, including a North Tower survivor named Felipe Sanchez, who experienced third degree burns from the powerful basement explosions, resulting in a six month hospital stay before he finally recovered.
Of the many available photographs and videos of the destruction of the Twin Towers, none show structures at their bases exploding or collapsing at the outsets of the events. This photograph shows explosions shattering the South Tower above and below the crash zone.

The 'basement explosions before collapse' is a weaker point for demolition for several reasons, even though they intuitively make sense, apart from the evidence. Could this be why websites like ArcticBeacon.com choose to highlight them - to ultimately undermine the efforts to expose the truth of 9/11 by bogging down the more clear evidence with confusing claims and shackling it with inherent contradictions?

First, if explosions were taking place in the basements in order to bring the towers down, it is clear from the photographic and video evidence that the structure of the tower underneath the initial collapse zone did not also collapse. Thus, a first contradiction and confusion. While such explosions could have weakened parts of the structure in the basement levels, they clearly did not produce the primary demolition events, which occurred in sequence around the collapse zones, moving downward. Consequently, while such alleged explosions could have contributed to the overall event, they primarily serve to create confusion and contradict the video and photographic evidence. Claims that small white clouds at the bases of the towers must indicate explosives, provide 'fuzzy evidence,' which may suggest to those new to 9/11 skepticism, that 9/11 researchers probably often engage in speculative leaps of deduction without a solid scientific basis.

The explosions in the basements theory is based primarily on sparse eyewitness evidence. One of the main eyewitnesses to these events is William Rodriguez, who also reported seeing one of the alleged hijackers making inquires about the buildings about a month before 9/11. William Rodriguez even testified to the 9/11 Commission regarding this sighting. Thus, while he may have experienced these events, not only is the reliability of his memory questionable -- could he really recall a particular hijacker, a month later, out of the hundreds of people he might interact with each day? -- but one must also then believe the official story that Arab hijackers knew and planned to crash into the towers in a suicide event: something that patsies would not do. Arab patsies would probably believe they were hijacking a flight across the country.

To add to these concerns about credibility, the person Rodriguez named and identified, Mohand Alshehri, was named by the Saudi Embassy as a victim of mistaken identity
( http://archives.cnn.com/2001/US/09/27/inv.suspects/ ), so apparently we may not know for sure if he was even an actual hijacker or not. While Rodriguez may be entirely sincere and indeed, is credited with saving many lives on 9/11, his statements make him less credible on a number of levels, which do not help establish the truth of 9/11, but instead, serve to muddy the understanding of the collapse events. While his testimony should not be ignored, the fact that corroborating evidence is so sparse does not support a focus on this area.

Unfortunately, the function of an eyewitness to the presence of a hijacker on the site of the WTC before 9/11 -- while also claiming there were bombs in the basements -- serves to present a tantalizing piece of evidence which comes with a price, the assumptions that:

  1. The hijackers were on a suicide mission and were not patsies.

  2. and / or (if it is discovered that the buildings were demolished)

  3. The hijackers were scoping out the building to figure out where to install demolition charges -- i.e., placing them at the scene of the crime in advance.

Finally, when physical evidence for these events are sought, one is often led to the highly misinterpreted 'seismic spike' data, fuzzy evidence which has been saddled with numerous and entrenched proclamations of the timing of explosions based on faulty analysis of the original data.

Highlighting the weakest points of an argument is a tactic which functions to water down legitimacy of a position. Those who promote the idea of basement bombs may sincerely believe that this is a strong point, however, their lack of clear evidence cannot support these events as strong points in a demolition theory. Those interested in a sense of legitimacy about the demolitions of the towers will be turned away by discussions that are based on less than a handful of single statements from individuals, or single fuzzy images which cannot be corroborated or confirmed. Unfortunately, these types of evidence can be almost endlessly debated and offer little that can be scientifically analyzed:

  • Silverstein's "pull-it" statement, evidence that Building 7 was intentionally demolished.
  • The image of the 'woman in the hole' as evidence that the temperatures in the North Tower were not as hot as the official story suggested.
  • The 'bombs in the basements,' argument based on spotty accounts such as the testimony from a janitor who also claims to have seen one of the hijackers before the attack.

Wikipedia

On wikipedia.org, the page on Steven E. Jones shows that the original article posted by 'ombudsman' ( November 16 2005 ) -- relatively benign and straightforward -- was soon shackled with misleading information about Jones and his research ( November 27, 2005 ). These efforts are illuminating and parallel much of the efforts to discredit both demolitions and 9/11 research in general. And where informed debate cannot succeed, personal attacks, deliberate obfuscation and extraneous information begin to be inserted.

Straw Man Hypotheses

Specifically about his paper, critics set up straw man attacks about Jones' claims about the fires. These provided openings for intellectually dishonest critics to then insert the idea that WTC 7 had strong fires with several sources, a view that directly contradicts Jones' points. Jones has a limited discussion on the fires in his paper, but primarily focuses on the unique and unusual qualities of the collapse events, i.e., the symmetry and the speeds, similar to a controlled demolition and the unusual qualities of the observed molten metal in the rubble. By inserting a claim as though it were central to Jones' paper, a 'reason' to insert a response to that non-existent argument is created.

Similarly, contributors to Wikipedia tried to continually focus on the idea that Jones had not discussed what type of metal the 'molten metal' could be. Indeed, Jones states that he does not know this fact, and calls for the release of all data in order to help determine what it might be. Trying to corner Jones into suggesting he knows the type of metal involved is a way to attempt to shackle Jones with disinformation for which he can be exposed as wrong if the documentation is ever released. Some posting to the Jones page even overtly suggested the metal must be aluminum, something Jones has not stated.

Molten metal is one of many unusual characteristics of the collapses. However, unlike several of the other collapse features Jones highlights, which are observed in other examples of controlled demolition, the molten metal anomaly appears to be unique to the World Trade Center event. Despite the attractiveness of the molten metal observations as evidence of demolition, they may be weaker evidence than the global collapse features -- the symmetry, speed, explosiveness, pulverization -- for several reasons:

While Jones' overall expertise in physics is an extremely valuable asset for the scientific investigation of the collapses, his special knowledge of the physics of metals makes him uniquely qualified to examine the molten metal evidence. Unfortunately, like several other reported collapse anomalies, this line of inquiry may be inherently inconclusive due to lack of other forms of evidence (such as photographs and physical artifacts) to corroborate the eyewitness accounts, and potential explanations for the molten metal unrelated to demolition.

While the reports of molten metal warrant investigation, a focus on them may function as a distraction to the other more direct evidence of demolition Jones discloses in his paper. The history of the 9/11 Truth Movement shows a pattern of the exploitation of weaker but more sensational evidence to distract from the unassailable evidence. Examples include the woman standing in the North Tower's hole, Silverstein's "pull-it" comment, ideas about military drone planes replacing the commercial jets, and flawed analysis of the 'seismic spikes'. Thus, one may wonder why there was a push by contributors to the Jones page on Wikipedia to focus on molten metal rather than the other features of the collapse events.

Although the molten metal observations are not presently conclusive, Jones continues to collect evidence and expand his analysis in this area using his special expertise in metallurgy.

When All Else Fails, Personal Attack

Perhaps more revealing, postings on Wikipedia began to focus on inserting critical statements from Jones' employer ( November 20, 2005 ). The first one came in an email from BYU civil engineering chairman Miller, who states that the structural engineers at BYU do not agree with Jones' findings. Such a position would not be unexpected for a department chairman in a university given such a controversial situation. A battle was soon waged between Wikipedia contributors over the relevance and detail of these criticisms. During this time, however, Szymanski's article focusing on the criticisms came out, and Jones publicly responded. Since then, others have spoken out in support of Jones, so that early efforts to discredit his work (by showing how the engineering department officials disagreed with it) became less powerful.

Indeed, while many structural engineers have supported the NIST and FEMA reports, Jones has underscored how these reports also include disclaimers that stop short of any final conclusions, such as, "With the information and time available, the sequence of events leading to the collapse of each Tower could not be definitively determined," and, "The specifics of the fires in WTC 7 and how they caused the building to collapse remain unknown at this time". Furthermore, the local KUTV news station, Deseret Morning News, MSNBC, the Pittsburgh Tribune Review and others, have felt that Jones' questions do deserve to be heard.

Loose Change

Amazingly, within just a few weeks of Steven Jones' appearance on MSNBC, a FOX News affiliate in Upstate New York decided to do a story on a new 9/11 film by three college students promoting claims that aircraft other than commercial jets were used in the attacks, 'Loose Change' (2nd edition). Interestingly, FOX News didn't cover the first edition, when it came out, despite a massive hype on the internet. Was this timing a coincidence? Even 'In Plane Site', a related 9/11 disinformation film rumored to have made over $1 million in sales, was not covered by the mainstream news media upon its release or re-release.

Promoters of 'Loose Change 2nd Edition' say that the 2nd Edition is acceptable because it no longer promotes 'pods.' However, in reality the 1st Edition's inclusion of pods, missiles and no commercial jets at the WTC or Pentagon has already deeply saturated the Internet. Anyone doing a Google search on Loose Change will find that information before the 2nd Edition information. Thus, those trying to understand how the towers could have been demolished -- after having heard about Steven Jones on MSNBC -- and then hearing about the new film, 'Loose Change,' will now see that those 9/11 activists don't believe that commercial jets hit the towers, and likely assume the professor is just nutty like the rest of them.

The 'Loose Change' website for the film links directly to a forum ('LC2E') involving the webmaster of the site LetsRoll911.org, one of the original and strongest promoters of the concept that pods were attached to undersides of the planes and fired missiles at the towers. Currently (Nov/Dec 2005), the main goal of LetsRoll911 appears to be to promote 'Loose Change'. Thus, even though promoters of LC are saying the contents of LetsRoll911 are not featured in the second edition, the websites are integrally mixed.

One purpose of such disinformation is the bundling of bogus and real information to weigh down any serious questioning of the official story in nonsense. Propaganda techniques, such as repeating an emotionally charged scene over and over, or approaching the unanswered questions of 9/11 in the manner of a ghost story telling, keeps viewers transfixed by the presentation without any rational evaluation of evidence. Both the official story and productions like 'In Plane Site' employ propaganda techniques to establish their points, while actual scientific inquiries, instead, rely on the inherent qualities of the evidence itself, to stand the test of time.

Interestingly, making a minor change in the second edition of the production was the same outcome of von Kleist's 'In Plane Site' in which, after much criticism, the director's cut of the film removed a small part ( the alleged Building 6 explosion ) in order to gain credibility with critics. However, at the same time, the film never backed away from the main disinformation of pods, flashes and no commercial jet at the Pentagon or WTC towers. It was an easy way to marginalize critics and yet also discredit the challenging of the official story.

These days, most websites on the net with any credibility -- even InformationClearinghouse.info -- refuse to be associated with 'In Plane Site' because it is understood that theories about pods, flashes, and missiles are not helpful in advancing 9/11 truth. (See the October 11, 2004, February 22, 2005, and the current versions of InformationClearinghouse.info's page on 'In Plane Site'.) The same will likely end up being true for 'Loose Change'.

Holmgren ad Hominems

Another important aspect of how disinformation in the 9/11 Truth Movement functions is through the use of attack and vitriol. While all types of people -- professionals, academics and average people -- can resort to nasty or inappropriate personal attacks when defending or promoting theories which conflict, the 9/11 Truth Movement has been packed with such attacks. Not surprisingly, however, most of the individuals who are most vitriolic are attempting to advance the more bizarre ideas such as hologram or no-plane theories. One of the advocates that commercial jets did not hit the WTC towers is Gerard Holmgren. Holmgren recently launched a campaign of attacks against Steven Jones, including a series of articles, real and promised, posted to several Indymedias, LibertyForum, and personal websites. Holmgren's spamming campaign includes public postings of personal email communications between himself and Jones, and an array of Holmgrenesque insults bordering on obscenity. Holmgren has a history of similar personal and vitriolic attacks on researchers who disagree with his positions, so the inclusion of Jones on his list is not surprising. Notably, the news of this posting was spread by "the Webfairy," a similarly hostile Internet persona known for promoting the 'theory' that impact of jetliners into the Twin Towers were simulated using holograms.

The Big Tent

In the 9/11 movement there appear to be phases in which disinformation techniques are tried, are pushed hard, and then are either debunked or functionally discarded such that anyone still promoting them is considered disingenuous or extremely naive.

In 2004, theories that the WTC towers were not hit by commercial jetliners began to be heavily promoted, after being floated in 2003. These ideas held that the jetliner crashes were faked using some combination of cargo planes, missile strikes, holograms, substituted media footage, and a canister projectile mounted in the South Tower and triggered to eject "appropriate debris" onto the streets of NYC. These ideas still litter the Web but are now largely ignored. More recently other variants of the no-jetliners theme have been promoted, including suggestions that Flight 93 did not crash in PA, and that radiation was discovered at all three crash sites.

While the more extreme no-jetliner ideas tend to die down after enjoying some notoriety, theories that a jetliner did not crash at the Pentagon -- variants of an idea effectively promoted since early 2002 -- persist.

One technique which has recently been promoted in the 9/11 Truth Movement is the "Big Tent" idea -- that all theories must be embraced in order to grow the movement. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to quickly realize that this technique benefits the disinformation promoters, not those promoting competent scientific analyses, like Steven Jones. Rational analyses of what happened on 9/11 will ultimately expose the truth, while nonscientific analyses can only be counterproductive to that end. Indeed, the association of ideas like pods, no planes, and missiles with Jones' analyses will tend to drain credibility from Jones' paper, while benefiting nonscientific or disinformation promoters. Interestingly, many of those promoting the most extreme ideas appear to have unlimited cash, unlimited free time, and unlimited bandwidth to promote their efforts -- resources that individuals like Jones cannot match.

Importantly, Big Tent preys on good people. Those who want to expose truth are the same people who often want to help other people and consequently, can often be victimized or manipulated when their values -- a hope for equal treatment of all peoples in the world -- are exploited to shame them into embracing nonsense theories in order to 'treat all fairly.'

Ultimately, the Big Tent approach can be expected to limit the 9/11 Truth Movement to those willing to digest hoaxes along with the real information. Inevitably, this will keep credible media and researchers away from the movement in order to distance themselves from what they might describe as laughable, or ideas which would negatively impact their careers if they were associated with them. Thus, importantly, Steven Jones has included statements in his paper to openly state that he does not endorse the more extreme nonsense that commercial jets did not strike the WTC towers. However, when the Big Tent idea is employed, people like Jones who are willing to stand up against nonsense do not have a secure network of support to stand behind them and are left open for personal attacks by people like Gerard Holmgren.

Conclusion

This paper has reviewed the recent media coverage of Steven E. Jones and has examined some of the responses from alternative news media and related propagandistic and nonscientific or hoax productions. Central to this paper is the relevance of the contrast between efforts that promote scientifically solid positions versus efforts which mix together anecdotal, flimsy or outright hoax information with real information, in order to generate hype and sell their version to the most people. This contrast will likely become increasingly clear over time as hoax information is discarded -- those attempting to promote ideas without a basis in reality have to increasingly move on to new hoaxes -- and research based on scientific analysis will withstand the test of time.

Copyright (c) 911Research.WTC7.net 2006