This article by Morgan Reynolds addresses
criticisms by Jim Hoffman
of portions of his earlier article,
Why Did the Trade Center Skyscrapers Collapse?.
Revisiting the WTC Building Collapses, Part I
high-minded man must care more
truth than for what people think.”
The events of 9-11
involved complex crimes. So many questions, so few answers. Are we
ever likely to figure out this grand deception exactly? Probably not
because “exactly” is too high a standard. This isn’t a counsel
of despair: prosecutors successfully prove defendants, including
conspirators, guilty beyond a reasonable doubt every weekday by
laying out a series of facts that have no other reasonable
explanation than that the defendant(s) did it. Prosecutors win
over 85% of criminal cases without understanding everything because
the defense fails to refute the facts or the logic that pin damning
facts tightly to the defendant. Defense attorneys in the ordinary
criminal case don’t have a lot to work with so their stock in trade
is absurdity, although there are important exceptions.
justice does not require prosecutors to explain everything or present
everything. Their job is to lay out irrefutable facts that prove
beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused committed the crimes and
then nullify the distractions the defense usually poses. A striking
example is presented in Vincent Bugliosi’s Outrage,
which points out that O.J. Simpson should have been convicted based
on only two facts:
DNA testing proved that O.J. Simpson’s blood was at the crime
“Simpson convicted himself out of his own mouth: The
detectives also elicited from Simpson the important admission that he
had not cut himself the last time (a week earlier) he was at
his former wife’s residence, thereby largely eliminating any
defense argument that any of Simpson’s blood found at the murder
scene had been left by Simpson on a previous occasion” (p. 330).
So where are we on
9-11? The one towering fact is that the 9-11 research community can
prove beyond a reasonable doubt that professional demolition brought
down the three trade center buildings—WTC 1, WTC 2 and WTC 7.
These unprecedented collapses in steel-framed skyscrapers bear all
the earmarks of demolition—virtual free fall speed of collapse,
pulverization of concrete, eyewitness testimony of explosions, film
and photographic evidence of explosions, and so on. The jetliner
attacks, by contrast, might be described as diversions that
facilitated and covered the primary attacks via demolition, a
familiar tactic in terrorist
attacks. Confusion and acrimonious debate over
jetliners contrast sharply with the implacable certainty of
In my article of June
9, which seemed to hit a nerve and attracted
surprising attention, I reviewed the evidence and concluded that
explosives imploded the three buildings in question. In sporting
parlance, the contest between two rival scientific theories produced
a rout: demolition 100, impact-fire-pancake-collapse theory 0. The
official “pancake” story cannot account for the wide range of
incontestable facts involved in the collapses while demolition can.
The popularity of the
official collapse theory stems from that fact that people want things
to make sense, and it’s human to embrace the first plausible
explanation we find. The government relied on this predictable
response and exploited it by positing the first plausible theory.
The scientific mind must strongly resist this tendency, especially
when this “plausible” theory comes from an interested party.
Scientific research requires a theory to demonstrate its superiority
in accounting for the facts over rival theories.
Now, I am fallible and
even admit to making a mistake occasionally (unlike our current
President) and might have erred in my June
9 article. Jim Hoffman of 911research.wtc7.net comes
to my rescue and the world by critiquing
my musings. This is basically good, of course, provided the debate
is civil because complex crimes and events need competing
investigators to speed our understanding. That’s the human
I considered two major
issues in my essay: what caused the impact holes in the towers?, and
what ultimately brought down the buildings, including WTC 7 which had
no impact holes? That seemed like a natural sequence to me because
that was the timeline for the towers: impact holes followed by fires
and then collapses. I tried to just look at the physical evidence
with a fresh eye, putting aside much that “we already know about
9-11.” I wanted to see what was in the photos and related
scientific evidence. On the biggest issue of all—the WTC
collapses—the evidence all points to the same conclusion:
demolition brought down the buildings. On the more speculative issue
of the impact holes, it’s still unclear, at least to me. I never
reached a firm conclusion, and so I never explicitly asserted there
were no jetliners. Instead, I raised questions about the airliners
that continue to puzzle me based on what I saw in the evidence.
No single hypothesis
about planes and passengers has yet emerged hands-down triumphant, in
my opinion. True, I am highly skeptical toward the official story
that Boeing 767s struck the towers because the evidence doesn’t
convince me. Maybe I’m just slow, maybe I’m on to something, and
maybe we should just ignore jetliners as a big distraction that
diverts attention from the fact of demolition. Yet human beings seek
explanations for what happened, so speculation, hypotheses and
investigations about aircraft are inevitable.
I may not yet understand the impact holes, airplanes and such, I
can’t resist inquiring about them. I’d like an explanation.
More generally, if only one consequence derived from a hypothesis
turns out to be false, then the hypothesis itself can be rejected.
An important consequence of the Boeing 767 hypothesis is an impact
hole in each tower at least as large as a Boeing 767. Impact holes
smaller than a Boeing 767, assuming each plane was intact upon
initial impact, would refute the hypothesis. A smaller aircraft,
say, a Boeing
737 with a wingspan of only 93 feet, versus the Boeing
767’s 155 feet, would remain a viable hypothesis. Regardless, the
relatively small, “neat” outline nature of the impact holes, lack
of recovered black boxes, lack of major wreckage and many other facts
bother me. So, my June 9 essay was basically saying, “Show me the
facts that implicate Boeing 767s beyond a reasonable doubt (and put
notoriously problematic eyewitness testimony and videos aside for the
moment).” That’s Missouri-style reasoning, the inchworm mind
and all. Certainly I’m not buying anything the bald-faced liars in
government say without independent confirmation.
I want to defer my
response on impact holes and airplanes until Part II of this essay.
Let’s concentrate here on disputed assertions regarding demolition.
While Jim Hoffman and I agree that the evidence for three WTC
demolitions is overwhelming, my antagonist disputes six things in my
treatment of the collapses:
strength of arguments against the fire-induced total collapse of
steel-framed buildings regardless of fire severity,” he
writes, “quibbling about the fires functions as a distraction, and
errors in assessing the fires' extent add to the distraction.
Reynolds minimizes the severity of the North Tower's fires citing
photographs of the tower's north side early in the event, but
from the south side shortly after the South Tower crash,
and photographs after the South Tower collapse show extensive
regions of fire.”
maybe it’s sufficient to say that historical and other evidence is
good enough to show that steel-framed buildings don’t completely
collapse, regardless of fire severity. Yet the official theory makes
a to-do about how intense these fires were when in reality they
weren’t intense by steel-framed, skyscraper standards. So it pays
to point out “non-intensity,” in my humble opinion because it
exposes one more government lie. Prosecutors should introduce all
the evidence that exposes the guilt of the perpetrators and steal all
the thunder from the defense.
major reason FDNY lost 343 firefighters that day, more than in the
department’s previous history, was that departmental commanders
never feared collapse and the fires were entirely manageable. Audio
tapes show that Battalion Chief Orio J. Palmer was on floor 78, the
lowest impact floor in the South Tower, at 9:52 a.m. and said, “We’ve
got two isolated pockets of fire. We should be able to knock it down
with two lines” (p.
206). Then the entire building completely imploded
minutes later. That’s part of the public record and highly
remember going into a colleague’s office in Washington, DC, that
morning to see what was happening on her TV, saw the smoking tower
and blurted out, “That building won’t fall.” Yet amateurs and
experts alike were stunned by the obliteration of the towers shortly
thereafter. Few of us knew then what had happened and who the
culprits were. I didn’t. Many fallaciously still cling to the
idea that intense fires brought down the building. So we might
restate it this way: the fires weren’t intense and even if they
were, those buildings would not have collapsed as they did.
is criticized as inadequate because it “understates the near
free-fall rapidity of Building 7's collapse…the building collapsed
entirely in under 7 seconds.”
what? Less than 10 seconds encompasses under 7 seconds. In general,
it’s probably better to be conservative on these times in order to
avoid the charge of hyperbole to make a point.
Another charge is
that I repeated the estimate of “approximately 10 seconds or less”
for each WTC collapse, yet elapsed time analysis allegedly shows
that each tower’s collapse took about 15 seconds. OK, at this
point in time I see no reason to quarrel with that, although the
pyroclastic dust clouds make precise statements difficult and give
room for unproductive quarreling. Also, the towers fell in
different ways, with the South Tower’s top 300 feet initially
tilting 22-23 degrees before total implosion and observers marveling
at the “incredible
rate of collapse of the North Tower.”
real point is that any collapse rate in this time range “is still
much too fast,” Hoffman writes, “to be explained by a
gravity-driven collapse.” All three buildings fell within a
matter of seconds. Blissfully ignorant of the devastating
implications of its admission, the 9/11
Commission Report asserts, “…the South Tower
collapsed in ten seconds” (p. 305).
statement allegedly is false because blast furnaces use hydrocarbon
fuel to melt steel. (A friend in the steel industry tells me that
only a few blast furnaces are left in the United States to produce
steel from iron ore plus additives like carbon, silicon, etc. Most
domestic production is recycled scrap steel melted down by
electric-furnaces, sometimes supplemented by gas-fired burners. Scrap
steel is heated to about 3000o F before being poured into
reply to the criticism above I’m inclined to say, give me a break!
Ok, there, I said it. It’s obvious I was referring to hydrocarbon
fires outside of the special conditions characteristic of blast
furnaces. In a fire in a building, hydrocarbon fires can only attain
about half the melting point temperature of steel under optimal
conditions (oxygen, fuel supply, etc.), so such fires cannot get
close to turning steel to liquid (melting). And since heat rises,
only beams high in the structure, not below, could have been
weakened. This is relevant because some people continue to believe
that melted steel or nearly-melted steel brought the buildings down.
building fires can thermally weaken steel in a steel-framed
skyscraper, although it takes a lot. Fires at the Meridian Plaza,
First Interstate Banking and other intense skyscraper fires softened
steel beams but these steel-framed skyscrapers did not collapse.
That’s the real point, and constitutes powerful evidence against
the official theory.
Next, I said that
“each collapse had detectable seismic vibrations suggestive of
underground explosions, similar to the 2.3 earthquake magnitude from
a demolition like the Seattle Kingdome” (p.
108). Well, the seismic vibrations were “suggestive”
of underground explosions. Suggestive is a squishy term and some
analysts maintain that seismic readings do provide evidence of
explosions. Mr. Hoffman, by contrast, insists that “the largest
seismic disturbances were caused by the ground impact of falling
Hoffman is right. The seismic evidence may only reflect the impact
of rubble and add nothing to the evidence in favor of explosives
dropping the towers, but I have my doubts. I’ll study it further.
It’s problematic because the WTC explosions were numerous and
powerful, including those at the base of the buildings. Common sense
tells me, “Powerful explosives disturb the earth more than falling
rubble.” And “the whole of science,” as Albert Einstein said,
“is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking”
(Bartlett’s, 15th edition, p. 763).
Finally, I stand
accused of repeating the error that “web trusses were not primary
support structures” undergirding most floors. I don’t know what
this refers to. Given the lack of a direct quotation, I’m hard
pressed to know. I did write “Each floor was also extremely
strong (p. 26), a
grid of steel, contrary to claims of a lightweight
sum up Part I of my response, quarrels over some of the details of
the WTC collapses are minor. Whatever uncertainties remain, the WTC
buildings were leveled via demolition. Through debates like these,
we may improve our understanding of the demolitions but demolitions
they were, beyond a reasonable doubt.
emeritus, economics, Texas A&M University, and former chief
economist, U.S. Department of Labor, 2001-2.