The editors of
followed in the footsteps of
in exploiting a trusted brand
in order to protect the perpetrators of the mass murder of 9/11/01.
The column by Michael Shermer
in the June, 2005 issue of
titled Fahrenheit 2777,
is an attempt to deceive the magazine's readers
into dismissing the overwhelming evidence that 9/11 was an inside job
without ever looking at that evidence.
More specifically, Shermer attempts to inoculate
readers against looking at the decidedly scientific refutation
of the official story found on our website, 911Research,
with a cluster of disinformation techniques including:
Although the column aims to marginalize the 9/11 Truth Movement
generally (without ever acknowledging it by name),
mentioning the books
The New Pearl Harbor, and
9/11: The Great Illusion,
it appears to be aimed primarily at
for several reasons:
- Attributing to 911Research an obscure and unrepresentative
statement that steel has a melting point of 2,777ºF
- Falsely implying that 911Research embraces a straw-man argument
that the official account of the Twin Towers' collapses
depends on the fires having melted steel.
- Contextualizing 911Research as nonsense
by surrounding its mention with absurd claims, and racist ideas.
- It is one of only two sites Shermer mentions.
- It's the source of his 2,777 figure.
- It's the target of his mis-attribution of the
straw man claim about melted steel.
- Its most persuasively argued claim -- that the
Towers were destroyed through controlled demolition --
is the only point Shermer attempts to debunk.
The Cryptic Origin of 2,777 Degrees Farenheit
Just after mentioning "creationism, Holocaust denial and the various
crank theories of physics," Shermer states:
[A]ccording to www.911research.wtc7.net,
steel melts at a temperature of 2,777 degrees Fahrenheit,
but jet fuel burns at only 1,517 degrees F.
No melted steel, no collapsed towers.
In fact, 911Research has never contained the figure 2,777 degrees Fahrenheit.
What 911Research does contain is passages like the following:
The Killer Fires Theory is Pure Fantasy.)
- 1535ºC (2795ºF) - melting point of iron
- ~1510ºC (2750ºF) - melting point of typical structural steel
- ~825ºC (1517ºF) -
maximum temperature of hydrocarbon fires
burning in the atmosphere without pressurization or pre-heating
(premixed fuel and air - blue flame)
Unable to locate the source of Shermer's figure of of 2,777ºF
in the over 500 pages of original material on the 911Research website,
I accused him of lying. Previous versions of my essay noted:
Shermer's attribution of 2,777ºF appears calculated
to discredit the site in the eyes of the casual reader.
Even the reader who doesn't know that steel
does not have a single melting point
(since steel is a[n] alloy whose melting point depends on its composition)
is likely to conclude that 911Research chose 2,777 for numerological
reasons and ignores physics,
and will be very unlikely to type in the unnecessarily long URL
In correspondence dated 7/11/05, Shermer revealed the source of his 2,777ºF.
He pointed out that a
page containing a transcript
for my slide presentation
The Twin Towers Demolition
contained the figure 1525 Celsius, whose Fahrenheit equivalent is 2777.
This number was a typo, since the temperature it referred to was the melting
point of iron, 1535ºC.
The number 1525 appeared only two sentences after a link
to the corresponding slide,
which listed both 1535ºC, and its equivalent 2795ºF --
not 1525ºC, which appeared nowhere on the site outside of the typo
on the obscure transcript page.
Nonetheless, my earlier characterization of Shermer's statement
as a "bold-faced lie" is unwarranted, and I apologize for my error.
Shermer's Melted Steel Straw Man
In the above excerpt, Shermer implies that our
argument for demolition is that the fires could not have melted the steel.
In fact, 911Research nowhere embraces the claim
that the melting of the structural steel was a prerequisite
for a gravity collapse of the towers.
What we do is debunk the claim made by apologists of the official story
that the fires melted the steel.
This claim appeared in several places, including
an article in Scientific American itself,
in which M.I.T. professor of civil and environmental engineering
Eduardo Kausel states:
I believe that the intense heat softened or melted the structural
elements--floor trusses and columns--so that they became like chewing gum,
and that was enough to trigger the collapse.
The fire-melts-steel idea was also endorsed by structural engineer
Chris Wise, who was quoted by the BBC as stating:
It was the fire that killed the buildings. There's nothing on earth
that could survive those temperatures with that amount of fuel burning.
The columns would have melted, the floors would have melted and eventually
they would have collapsed one on top of each other.
In the article that quoted Wise and in other articles,
the BBC ran the graphic to the right,
which asserts that fires of
800ºC were "hot enough to melt steel floor supports."
For more information on claims by "experts" that
air-aspirated hydrocarbon-fueled open fires can melt steel, see:
In the transcript mentioned above, the paragraph immediately
following the source of Shermer's 2,777ºF
debunks the column failure theory.
Subsequent paragraphs debunk the truss failure theory.
Thus it is difficult to imagine that Shermer's false attribution of
the melted steel straw man argument to 911Research was accidental.
Shermer Parrots Debunked Fantasies
Following his misrepresentation of 911Research,
Shermer gives a short narrative of the
truss failure theory,
featuring M.I.T. Materials Science Professor Thomas Eagar,
who gave us the
zipper and domino theory.
Shermer cites Eagar's article in the
Journal of the Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society,
failing to mention that 911Research had long ago
debunked that same article.
Shermer, not one for facts, exaggerates the article's already fantastic claims,
stating that "rugs, curtains, furniture and paper"
ignited by the jet fuel
"raising temperatures above 1,400 degrees F and spreading the inferno
throughout each building."
Compare Shermer's description of the
"inferno throughout each building"
to the photo on the right showing the South Tower moments
before its collapse.
The claim that the Twin Towers were destroyed by controlled demolition
is the only one that Shermer attacks, which he does with
the following rendition of the zipper and domino theory:
Temperature differentials of hundreds of degrees across
single steel horizontal trusses caused them to sag--straining and
then breaking the angle clips that held the beams to the vertical columns.
Once one truss failed, others followed.
When one floor collapsed onto the next floor below,
that floor subsequently gave way,
creating a pancaking effect
that triggered each 500,000-ton structure to crumble.
The errors in this passage include:
- The misrepresentation of the steel shelves that held up the
trusses as "angle clips".
- The theory of sequential truss failure (Eagar's zipper) --
impossible given the
cross-trussing and floor-pan connections.
- the theory of sequential floor failure (Eagar's dominoes) --
an intact floor would easily absorb the impact
of a floor falling 10 feet.
- the suggestion that floor failures could progress to total
collapse, when it would leave the columns standing.
- the idea that a steel-frame building can "crumble"
without being shredded by demolition charges.
Shermer goes on explain the symmetry of the collapses:
Conspiricists argue that the buildings should
have fallen over on their sides, but with 95 percent of each building
consisting of air, they could only have collapsed straight down.
If buildings that are "95 percent" air -- virtually all modern
office buildings -- can only collapse straight down,
one has to wonder why demolition companies are paid millions of
dollars to engineer straight-down collapses with hundreds of
carefully placed and precision-timed explosives.
Shermer fails to note that no structure before or after 9/11/01
has ever exhibited the phenomenon of top-down progressive total collapse,
no matter what fraction of it was air.
The non-repeatability of this phenomenon will trouble
students of the scientific method, but not Shermer.
Shermer's Unscientific Method
In fact, Shermer's entire method of attacking "conspiracy theories"
Consider his language.
Scientists almost never use universal quantifiers such as all
to describe inexact phenomena.
For being published in a magazine titled Scientific American,
Shermer is fond of sweeping generalizations.
The mistaken belief that a handful of unexplained anomalies can undermine
a well-established theory lies at the heart of all
(as well as creationism, Holocaust denial and the various
crank theories of physics).
All the "evidence" for a 9/11 conspiracy
falls under the rubric of this fallacy.
All the 9/11 conspiracy claims are this easily refuted.
There are several errors in Shermer's assertion that
"a handful of unexplained anomalies" cannot
"undermine a well-established theory".
- A single anomaly can undermine a well-established theory,
as illustrated by the success of a single anomaly --
the Michelson-Morley experiment --
in overturning the well-established theory of ether.
unexplained anomalies of the official story
are better described as a mountain than a handful.
- The official story is not well established in
any scientific or legal sense,
but only in the sense of being endorsed by corrupt government bodies,
such as the
and unquestioningly embraced by nearly all media.
Shermer's approach is worse than unscientific -- it's fraudulent.
He misrepresents his opponent's positions
and attempts to associate them with nonsensical and offensive ideas.
While failing to identify a single argument of the hundreds
made by 911Research,
Shermer fraudulently implies that our entire case rests
on a straw man argument built on a single fact:
Such notions are easily refuted by noting that scientific theories
are not built on single facts alone but on a convergence of evidence
assembled from multiple lines of inquiry.
No melted steel, no collapsed towers.
For example, according to www.911research.wtc7.net, steel melts at a
temperature of 2,777 degrees Fahrenheit, but jet fuel burns at only
1,517 degrees F. No melted steel, no collapsed towers.
One needs only to read the slides for my talk
The World Trade Center Demolition
to appreciate Shermer's disregard for the truth.
In that talk, we refer to the vast bodies of evidence
compiled on the 911Research site
and apply them in multiple lines of inquiry, examining:
David Ray Griffin's
The New Pearl Harbor,
which Shermer insults as "conspiratorial codswallop,"
takes a similar approach.
Contrary to the column's implication,
Griffin explicitly developed his thesis as a "cumulative argument" (p. Xiv),
which he summarizes in terms of 24 different lines of inquiry (pp. 132-34).
Shermer's attack could hardly be more hypocritical.
He pays lip service to the kind of cumulative argument
known as inference to the best explanation,
which requires the consideration of all the relevant evidence.
But he avoids the vast bodies of evidence cited by skeptics like Griffin,
and fails to correctly state even a single one of their arguments.
Instead, Shermer embeds mentions of the works of serious skeptics
within a tapestry of ludicrous ideas so as to discredit them
This approach has nothing to do with science
and everything to do with sophistry.
Shermer: Chertoff Protege
Shermer's column exhibits many of the same propaganda techniques
as the ambitious
feature article in the March issue of Popular Mechanics
by Benjamin Chertoff,
for which Shermer professes admiration:
The single best debunking of this conspiratorial codswallop
is in the March issue of Popular Mechanics, which provides
an exhaustive point-by-point analysis of the most prevalent claims.
Comparing the two attack pieces is instructive.
Both pieces mention a similar range of issues,
with Shermer adding Jewish conspiracy rumors and UFOlogists to the mix.
Both employ the following three deceptive techniques,
but with different emphasis.
Both pieces use the reverse straw man argument about melted steel.
Popular Mechanics makes much more extensive use of
the straw man argument.
Shermer, in contrast, relies heavily on bracketing.
Consider the following paragraph:
- The straw man argument:
attacking a position falsely attributed to your opponent
- The reverse straw man argument:
falsely attributing a straw man argument to your opponent
mentioning a position of your opponent,
but surrounding it with other positions so as to discredit it.
From these sites, you will
discover that some people think the Pentagon was hit by a missile;
that U.S. Air Force jets were ordered to "stand down" and not intercept
Flights 11 and 175, the ones that struck the twin towers; that the
towers themselves were razed by demolition explosives timed to go off
soon after the impact of the planes; that a mysterious white jet shot
down Flight 93 over Pennsylvania; and that New York Jews were ordered
to stay home that day (Zionists and other pro-Israeli factions, of
course, were involved).
It begins with the Pentagon no-plane theory and ends with
the Jewish conspiracy rumor --
ideas with no supporting evidence, which most people will reflexively reject.
Sandwiched between them are two valid ideas --
the lack of timely military response and the
controlled demolition of the towers --
which Shermer attempts to further muddle with omissions and distortions:
he fails to mention the non-interception of Flight 77,
which hit the Pentagon almost an hour after the North Tower crash,
and misrepresents demolition claims by saying explosives were timed
to go off "soon after the impact of the planes,"
ignoring the 102 minutes the North Tower stood after the impact.
The article as a whole echoes this structure.
It opens with a mention of the
"9/11 conspiracy book"
by Thierry Meyssan -- the original source of the
ill-grounded and now debunked Pentagon no-plane theory,
and ends with an incredible theory of the fate of Flight 77's passengers,
hinting at Operation Pearl, in which the jetliners are landed
on a secret military base and passengers are herded onto one plane
and the others are "electronically towed" out over the Atlantic
Ocean for disposal.
Such complex baseless theories require large numbers of operatives,
which is probably their purpose:
people are unlikely to believe a theory that requires the
silence of hundreds or thousands of people,
a point Shermer exploits.
In contrast, 911Research speculates that the attack was
executed by a team numbering fewer than the alleged hijackers:
a feat made possible through computer automation
and the exploitation of top-down military command structures.
Attack Scenario 404.
Shermer uses an array of deceptive methods to persuade the reader
that challenges to the official story of the 9/11 attack
are worthy only of ridicule and should not be scrutinized.
His primary technique is to use hoaxes and unscientific ideas --
long promoted on the web and in videos --
to bracket the valid ideas that he seeks to shield the reader from.
That Shermer went to such great lengths to thoroughly misrepresent
the painstaking, scientific, evidence-based work of 911Research
is a testament to the site's success.
Copyright (c) 911Research.WTC7.net 2005