9-11Researchreviews

Maintaining the Mirage:
A Foray Into the Fallacy Factory
of the Demolition Deniers

A critique of Ryan Mackey's essay: "On Debunking 9/11 Debunking:
Examining Dr. David Ray Griffin's Latest Criticism
of the NIST World Trade Center Investigation"

by Jim Hoffman

Version 0.9; May 18, 2008
Version 0.7; March 16, 2008
Version 0.6; December 14, 2007
EDITOR'S NOTE: This review originally critiqued Version 1 of Ryan Mackey's essay, which consisted of 180 pages of comments criticizing analysis by David Ray Griffin of NIST's investigation. This review remained incomplete while two other authors addressed aspects of Mackey's essay: Following the publication of these, Mackey generated Version 2 of his essay. More than 300 pages in length, this version has lengthy fallacy-rich sections addressing Thurston's and Ryan's articles almost line-by-line.

This review will never be a complete reply to Mackey's essay. An attempt to create such a reply would be misguided since it would lend legitimacy to Mackey's method: generating masses of criticism of the targeted information using arguments with superficial plausibility -- the emphasis being on quantity -- while employing a vast array of propagandistic techniques, factual distortions, and logical fallacies. The rationale behind that method seems clear enough: create a smokescreen of baseless arguments and distractions, clothed in claims of intellectual superiority and scientific legitimacy, such that the audience might be reassured that there is no need to look at the evidence of controlled demolition.

Introduction

In early 2007, Dr. David Ray Griffin published his fourth book on the crimes of September 11, 2001, Debunking 9/11 Debunking the third chapter of which is titled The Disintegration of the World Trade Center: Has NIST Debunked the Theory of Controlled Demolition? That chapter is the subject of Ryan Mackey's lengthy article reviewed here.

Someone reading just the Introduction or Discussion of Mackey's 180-page article might easily conclude that the entire article is composed of insults, straw man arguments, innuendo, and appeals to authority. However, the article contains a range of types of arguments, from the obviously fallacious ones to cleverly misleading ones to superficially persuasive ones having some didactic value. This review will put Mackey's arguments in context, reframed by the physical reality of the event.

This review is not a comprehensive critique of Mackey's article. If it were it would be a sizable book, given the article's length, and the number of counter-arguments its many arguments -- valid and fallacious -- invite. Instead, I will step back to take a broader view of the question of what destroyed the Twin Towers, while focusing on some of the arguments made by Griffin and Mackey pertaining to that question. I will treat NIST's investigation only peripherally, having addressed it in some detail in Building a Better Mirage and A Reply to the NIST's Answers to Frequently Asked Questions.

For this critique I use an organization that departs from both that of Griffin's chapter and Mackey's article, in order to bring the focus back to the core issue: what caused the swift and total destruction of the World Trade Center. Mackey's long-winded article, like most reviews professing to debunk the case for controlled demolition, conceals that issue by redirecting readers into a bottomless well of exaggerated details and a variety of fallacies that depart ever further from the core evidence that speaks to the question at hand.

This review first outlines a series of arguments for controlled demolition, examining arguments by Mackey in relation to those arguments; then provides a "global analysis" of Mackey's methods. This organization is intended to extract Mackey's substantive and relevant arguments from his abundant unsupported and gratuitous assertions and characterizations regarding Griffin's work, and to highlight and address those arguments.

Contents

Intuition and the Scientific Method Versus Perception Management

To a mind not encumbered by the implications of the 9/11 being a horrific inside job, the progressive explosions of the Twin Towers are unmistakable demolitions. It's simple intuition that, had these enormous steel structures collapsed, portions of them would have fallen down; they would not have thoroughly pulverized and shredded themselves from top-to-bottom in gigantic explosions "vaporizing" their human occupants so thoroughly that not even a trace could be found to identify more than one thousand victims.

Because intuitions can be mistaken, the scientific method was developed to test conclusions through a verifiable and repeatable process of observation, hypothesis, experiment, and analysis. That method, embodied in numerous arguments such as these overwhelmingly confirms the controlled demolition hypothesis.

Given that the demolition of the Twin Towers is both intuitively obvious and consistently verified by the scientific method, what sustains the collapse theory? I think it is primarily three elements:

  • The inoculation of the collapse myth into a deeply traumatized public starting on the day of the attack
  • The dynamics of the Big Lie, wherein the reality is too painful for most people to confront
  • The illusion that the official story is the consensus view of all of the people considered sufficiently expert to understand the events

The framing of the Towers' destruction as "collapses" was a key part of the first element. Whereas Mackey briefly addresses this by responding to The Semantics of Deception, the vast majority of Mackey's efforts are spent servicing the third element.

The Semantics of the Twin Towers' Destruction

The transformations of the Twin Towers from intact buildings to widely scattered rubble and dust were, inescapably, explosions. Whatever the cause of these vast eruptions of dust and shattered steel, their sudden onset, rapidly expanding frontiers, and omnidirectional character fit virtually every sense of the word "explosion".

The expunging of this word from reportage of these events -- a shift that can be seen on major TV networks within the space of an hour -- is a testament to the degree to which powerful socialization tools can be used to rewrite history at times when a deep collective shock renders the populace ever so susceptible to messages emanating from authority figures, where the words used to frame that message exert a profound and mostly unconscious effect on the listener's understanding of the events.

On 9/11/2001, the very words used to describe the Towers' destruction were a key aspect of inculcating the public with pretext for the War on Terror. With the substitution of the word collapse for explosion, and the supplying of the narrative "plane hits tower, tower burns, tower collapses" the official explanation was cemented and rational examination of events short-circuited.

C. Thurston explained this deception in his 2006 article Explosions or Collapse: The Semantics of Deception and the Significance of Categories, which Griffin cites in Chapter 3.

Mackey, rather than addressing Thurston's premise that framing the attack through semantics was key to the crime's success, dismisses it with the cliché "nothing more than semantics".

The Illusion of Expert Consensus

Appeals to authority are the mainstay of Mackey's defense of the collapse theory, and the effectiveness of those appeals depends on maintaining the twin illusions that only experts are equipped to infer the cause of the total destruction of the WTC Towers and that there is a consensus of support among experts for the official explanation.

The construction of Mackey's article, with its long replies to often obscure points several times removed from the physical reality of the Towers' destruction and its frequent digressions into fallacies of logic disparaging critics of the official story, seems designed to make the issue seem so complex that only an expert could understand it. To the contrary, many of the arguments for controlled demolition are inferences of cause and effect based on straightforward reasoning requiring nothing more than high-school physics.

Mackey's insistence that all experts are aligned behind the official story is transparently dogmatic, and easily shown to be false. One need look no further than the membership list of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth to find structural engineers and fire engineering experts who reject the collapse theory.

Collapse Versus Demolition: Burden of Proof

At the outset, Mackey insists that Griffin bears the burden of proof in arguing that the WTC skyscrapers were subjected to controlled demolition, implying that whereas demolition is an affirmative assertion that requires proof, the collapse explanation promoted by the government and media is true by default. He then claims that Griffin cannot prove demolition when he fails to articulate a coherent theory:

Dr. Griffin has not identified any coherent theory of "controlled demolition," here or in any previous text. In his book he cites the work of Dr. Steven Jones [8], but also numerous other, incompatible theories, without selecting any particular candidate.
p.6

Griffin has no more failed to identify a controlled demolition theory than NIST has failed to identify a collapse theory. In their most general forms, the collapse hypothesis and the demolition hypothesis encompass two mutually exclusive accounts of the destruction of the Twin Towers, where each has many possible detailed scenarios.

One would still need to advance evidence supporting the explosives hypothesis before it could have any merit. In phrasing his question reactively, Dr. Griffin is declining to outline the case for his own, positive claim, or even to define the claim itself with clarity. Instead he is satisfied to simply cast doubt upon the NIST FAQ and NIST Report, while never accepting his own burden of proof.

Regardless of this logical error ...
p.7

In fact Dr. Griffin has made a compelling case for controlled demolition with a series of inductive and deductive arguments. In Chapter 2 of Omissions and Distortions Griffin makes the persuasive inductive argument, summarized below, based on the fact that the destruction of each of the WTC skyscrapers exhibited ten "standard features" of controlled demolitions. He provides a much more detailed exposition of this argument and provides many additional arguments in the 2005 essay The Destruction of the World Trade Center: Why the Official Account Cannot Be True, which is reproduced in the 2006 book Christian Faith and the Truth Behind 9/11. In contrast, Chapter 3 of Debunking 9/11 Debunking is framed as a refutation of NIST's theory. It appears disingenuous of Mackey to fault Griffin for not making a case for controlled demolition, when he does so very explicitly in other works that Mackey could have found with the most cursory research; and when Chapter 3 does indeed make such a case, if in a less direct manner.

Engineered Versus Natural Processes

To claim that the burden of proof lies entirely with proponents of the controlled demolition hypothesis Mackey reframes the issue to artificially narrow that hypothesis. Mackey states:

The burden of proof issue is significant because, even if NIST’s response above and its meticulous final report could be shown to be incorrect, it would still not imply that “explosives” of any kind were responsible for the WTC collapses. It is possible for both NIST and Dr. Griffin to be wrong.
p.7

Mackey's assertion that NIST's explanation and the "explosives hypothesis" do not encompass the range of possibilities is true but misleading, because of how it narrows the competing views. Consider, instead, the competing views expressed as an answer to the following question: Were Twin Towers destroyed at 9:59 AM and 10:28 AM by structural collapses due to impact and fire damage, or were those events engineered (i.e.: controlled demolitions). The opposed views prompted by that question are both mutually exclusive and encompass the range of possibilities: disproving one validates the other.

Since NIST's explanation doesn't encompass the range of possible collapse theories, disproving NIST's specific scenario doesn't prove controlled demolition. However, disproving the general form of the collapse hypothesis, which underlies all of NIST's work, does. Most of the arguments for controlled demolition provided below either adduce direct evidence for controlled demolition, or attack the general form of the collapse hypothesis.

False-Flag Covert Operations

Mackey's insistence that the government's explanation deserves the presumption of correctness is yet another example of an appeal to authority. The presumption will appear less strained to readers unaware of the long history of covert false-flag operations, such as the following:

Arguments for Demolition of the Twin Towers

Following are a set of arguments for the controlled demolition of the Twin Towers, some also being applicable to Building 7. This is not the same set of arguments used by Dr. Griffin, and some are not even addressed by Mackey's lengthy article. They are included in this review in order to refocus discussion on the question of what destroyed the WTC skyscrapers.

Behavior of Steel Buildings in Fires

Perhaps the most common argument made against the official explanation that impact damage plus fires caused the Twin Towers to collapse is based on the absence of a single example -- outside the alleged cases of WTC 1, 2, and 7 -- of fires causing the collapse of a steel-framed high-rise building, and the documentation of several cases in which severe skyscraper fires caused only minor structural damage.

This simple inductive argument posits that since fires have never before or since 9/11/01 caused the collapse of a steel-framed high-rise building, it is unlikely that it was causative in the destruction of the WTC skyscrapers.

To counter this argument, Mackey cites three examples of fire-induced structural collapses, none of which are high-rise buildings.

The McCormick Place exhibition hall is one such example, which collapsed in 1967 only 30 minutes after a small fire was accidentally started [2324]
p.12

Mackey's citation of the McCormick Place fire illustrates just how far afield one has to go to find an example of even a partial collapse of a steel-framed building induced by fire. Mackey's inclusion of extraneous details makes his comparison even more strained: what does the size or intentionality of the fire's origin have to do with how it caused the roof collapse?

Another prominent example is the Mumbai High North Oil Platform [24], constructed of steel and seven stories high, which completely collapsed after burning for two hours following a shipping accident that ruptured oil lines.
p.12

Mackey's second example of structures destroyed by fire that are not high-rise steel-framed buildings takes us even further afield, to India, where an oil platform was engulfed by an intense fire in which the fuel and air supply were virtually unlimited. It has almost nothing to do with the self-crushing steel building theory in which a tall structure crushes and shreds itself from top to bottom.

A third example, occurring after Dr. Griffin’s manuscript was finalized, is the collapse of the Interstate 580 overpass in the MacArthur Maze [25] near San Francisco. This overpass, supported only by steel beams, suffered no impact but collapsed due to the heat of an 8,600 gallon gasoline fire, burning in the open below, after nineteen minutes.
p.12-13

Mackey's third example is often cited as supporting the official story of the WTC collapses, as if the fire-induced collapse of a viaduct section (of which there are a number of examples) lends plausibility to the fire-induced collapse of a skyscraper (of which there are no examples).

But let's assume there is some basis for comparison. Consider that the collapsed span of the MacArthur Maze fell, unimpeded, through about 20 feet of space before being brought to a complete halt by the elevated roadway below it, even though that roadway was not designed to support the upper span, even under static conditions. Compare that to the explanation of the Towers' collapse in which the upper sections, after falling through about 10 feet of space occupied by columns that would have to be crushed, proceeded to crush the rest of Towers all the way to the ground, all the way destroying columns designed to support the static loads of the upper portions.

Aside from these fundamental differences, there are vast differences in the scales of the supposed causes and observed outcomes of the WTC and Maze events. The alleged causes would be more comparable had the Towers been hit by jumbojet tankers carrying eight times as much fuel as the 767s, and the fires were fully ventilated by the removal of all windows throughout 10-floor regions. The outcomes would be more comparable had the collapse of the Maze span triggered the total collapse of the numerous undamaged viaducts throughout the 30-acre MacArthur Maze.

After trotting out three examples which are irrelevant to the argument based on the history of steel-framed high-rise buildings, Mackey states that Griffin has "given no scientific reason why the WTC Towers should not have collapsed". To the contrary, inductive arguments based on empirical data are integral to the scientific method.

Behavior of Steel Structures in Collapses

A second argument for the controlled demolition of the Twin Towers is based on the observation that the steel skeletons of the Towers were shattered into thousands of pieces. Indeed, no large three-dimensional steel assemblies survived at Ground Zero, other than fragments of lower portion of the North Tower's core and sections of the bases of the perimeter walls of both Towers.

The notion that any collapse event could shred a steel structure runs contrary both to people's everyday experiences with steel structures, and to the history of engineering, as defenders of the official story have failed to produce any examples of structural failures that have reduced steel structures to small disconnected pieces. Of course, explosive demolition handily explains the shredding of the Twin Towers.

Features of Controlled Demolitions

The vivid, redundant evidence of numerous features of controlled demolitions in the destruction of the Twin Towers is the basis for a simple persuasive inductive argument for the involvement of controlled demolition. Dr. Griffin provided a concise list of ten features of controlled demolition exhibited in the destruction of WTC 1, 2, and 7 in Omissions and Distortions:

  1. Each collapse occurred at virtually free fall speed.
  2. Each building collapsed straight down, for the most part onto its own footprint.11
  3. Virtually all the concrete was turned into very fine dust.
  4. In the case of the Twin Towers, the dust was blown out horizontally for 200 feet or more.12
  5. The collapses were total, leaving no steel columns sticking up hundreds of feet into the air.
  6. Videos of the collapses reveal “demolition waves”, meaning “confluent rows of small explosions.”13
  7. Most of the steel beams and columns came down in sections that were no more than 30 feet long.14
  8. According to many witnesses, explosions occurred within the buildings.15
  9. Each collapse was associated with detectable seismic vibrations (suggestive of underground explosions).
  10. Each collapse produced molten steel (which would be produced by explosives), resulting in “hot spots” that remained for months.”16

Although this description is in some ways imprecise -- for example, the mass of the Twin Towers fell mostly outside of their footprints -- it is a good thumbnail sketch of features of the Towers' destruction -- features, common in controlled demolitions, which fall completely outside of phenomena observed in natural collapse events.

Rapidity of Destruction Onset

The destruction of both Towers commenced suddenly and progressed to completion in an uninterrupted fashion. The first motion of the South Tower is a tipping toward the east whose onset is followed two seconds later by the rapid descent of the top accompanied by rows of explosions. The onset of the destruction of the North Tower is even more precipitous, seen from the north as an sudden telescoping of the top into the base accompanied by explosions ringing the Tower.

Mackey addresses the rapid onset of destruction by denying it.

Even without the NIST calculations, video evidence demonstrates that the structures gradually degraded as they burned, with remaining exterior columns bowing inwards until the structures buckled and then collapsed.
p.66

The alleged structural degradation is not evident in surviving photographs and videos of the Towers between 8:46 AM and 9:59 AM, archived by 9-11 Research, which show no motion before the precipitous onset of each destruction event. NIST has only produced one photograph allegedly showing bowing of columns in the North Tower, and two photographs allegedly showing bowing of columns in the South Tower; and, assuming the photographs were not edited, there are other explanations for the appearance, such as the refraction of light by heated air near the building's facade.

The main problem is that for the buildings to have come straight down, as Hoffman has pointed out, "All 287 columns would have to have weakened to the point of collapse at the same instant." [140]
Comments: Hoffman is wrong, which is unsurprising given his lack of expertise in structural engineering. What Hoffman and Dr. Griffin neglect is that rotation or other motion of the structure would stress the remaining connections, and cause surviving supports to be broken rapidly after the initial failures.
p.109

The visual records show that rotation in the North Tower's top did not begin until after the top began to move symmetrically downward. We see no evidence of structural degradation, buckling, rotation, or "other motion" that Mackey asserts, prior to the sudden onset of telescoping of the top accompanied by thick dust ejections from around the crash zone.

Explosive Features

Explosive events, such as blast waves, energetic jets of dust, exploding clouds of dust, steel assemblies flying hundreds of feet in all directions, and thorough pulverization of debris are all direct evidence of explosives and controlled demolition.

Mackey deals with some of these explosive features through a combination to two misleading tactics:

  • By pretending that detonations in a demolition would be visible and audible as distinct events.
  • By simply denying the many explosive features that are abundantly documented.
Had explosives been used to disintegrate the upper block at this juncture, however, we would expect to see and hear visible evidence of their use, including shock waves, shrapnel, and possibly bright flashes. Explosives large enough to instantaneously pulverize 25,000 tons or more of structure would be difficult to mistake. This speculation of Dr. Jones is totally unsupported and of little value.
p.56

Here, Mackey makes multiple false assumptions, including:

  • That all high explosives have a bright flash. Some conventional explosives don't, and a thermobaric explosive using hydrogen detonates with a flash that's invisible in daylight.
  • That there is no evidence of flashes. In fact, small flashes are visible in the South Tower destruction, and there a number of specific credible reports of flashes in the oral histories of emergency responders.
  • That the pulverization of concrete could not have been produced without explosives of high brisance. Given the moisture content of concrete, elevating it to a sufficient temperature would cause explosive spalling. If large quantities of aluminothermics were used to sever structural members, the excess heat could have caused such spalling.
  • That there were no shockwaves or shrapnel. In fact, there were overpressures sufficient to puncture windows of buildings several hundred feet from the Towers, and the Towers were largely reduced to "shrapnel".
  • That the detonation of numerous explosives would appear as a single point-source blast.
Comments: Gypsum crushes readily. We may also be looking at smoke. Cameras and lighting alter shades of grey, and the video stills on Hoffman's site are of extremely low quality.
p.90

Here Mackey attempts to dismiss the undeniable evidence of high-velocity jets of dust by complaining about the quality of the images on this page. This sequence of frames referenced on that page is of sufficient quality to measure the velocity of the dust ejections from the North Tower's west face, and that velocity is at least 100 feet per second.

Comments: The "piston theory" does not require an orderly pancaking, nor does it require that floors would survive later events as the Towers continued to collapse. Any mechanical motion will create the pressurization in the Towers, whether orderly or not, whether complete floors or only portions thereof.
p.91

Rapidity of Descent of Zones of Destruction

Once the destruction of each Tower began, the zone of destruction progressed down the building's vertical axis in a continuous elevator-like fashion. The actual destruction of the structures remained hidden behind the rapidly expanding nearly spherical clouds of rubble and dust, sometimes seeming to slightly outrace the descending clouds. There are several aspects of the general feature of the rapid descent of veiled zones of destruction that belie the collapse theory.

First, the rate and continuity of the destruction indicate a planned systematic destruction. In each Tower, once the top disappeared into the rubble cloud, the top of the rubble cloud began to descend at an increasing rate, approaching the ground in about 14 and 17 seconds in the case of WTC 2 and WTC 1, respectively. At no point in either event did a significant portion of a perimeter wall remain standing above the top of the dust cloud. How could a random collapse so systematically erase the perimeter walls such that no portions persisted for even a few seconds to protrude above the rapidly-descending rubble clouds?

Second, the very fact that the zones of destruction remained concealed within the rubble clouds would require an enormous coincidence had the buildings merely collapsed. How could the Towers collapse in a progressive fashion whose rate just happened to remain between the rates of descent of tops and bottoms of the rubble clouds throughout the events?

Third, the fact that the rates of descent of the zones of destruction were similar to the rates of descent of the rubble clouds contradicts the inherent consequence of the collapse theory: that the intact building structure would have slowed the descent of the "crush zone" far more than air would have slowed the descent of the rubble cloud.

Increase in Symmetry During Progression

Observations about changes in symmetry during the progression of the destruction of each Tower are the basis for an argument against the general form of the collapse hypothesis. The total destruction of each of the Twin Towers was highly symmetric about each building's vertical axis. This is abundantly documented in the visual records from a range of different vantage points, and by the documented distribution of debris from the Towers at Ground Zero. However, both events showed in their first few seconds pronounced and increasing asymmetry, which essentially disappeared as the Towers' falling tops were consumed by explosions.

In contrast, natural collapse events are characterized by the amplification of asymmetries over time. Anyone who has seen something topple has observed this phenomenon: a small initial asymmetry caused by the displacement of a tall object's center of gravity relative to its base causes the object to rotate in the direction of that displacement, increasing that displacement and accelerating the rotation. If one were to watch a toppling object suddenly disintegrate in mid-air, they would probably suspect some process other than a collapse was involved.

Mackey's response to the argument that the increasing symmetry in the destruction of the Towers from top to bottom implies demolition is a series of evasions -- he never addresses it directly.

To begin, the WTC Tower collapses harmed every structure within hundreds of yards, several to the point of complete destruction. There is, therefore, no compelling reason to have brought them down vertically, if this was in any way challenging or suspicious.
p.108

This doesn't address Griffin's point, which is that the Towers came down symmetrically -- a feature that has never been exhibited by a falling skyscraper outside of controlled demolition. Mackey's assertion that they "harmed every structure" around them is beside the point. Whereas each of the seven buildings in the WTC complex, including the block-separated WTC 7, were either completely or mostly destroyed, None of the many large buildings surrounding the complex were destroyed, and the one of these dozen skyscrapers that was eventually demolished was taken down for reasons other than structural compromise.

Mackey's next rebuttal to the symmetry-implies-demolition argument is to fault Griffin for not provided a precise demolition scenario, such as the type and placement of explosives. How is that relevant? Mackey then attempts to confuse the issue by pointing out that controlled demolitions aren't necessarily vertical. The point, Mr. Mackey, is that controlled demolitions are engineered to produce desired results, and the result of top-down vertical destruction implies demolition.

Motion of Descending Tops

The motions of the tops of both of the Towers exhibit characteristics that indicate controlled demolition. These motions are entirely different in the case of the North and South Tower, in contrast to the subsequent progression of the destruction events, which become more and more similar between the Towers over time.

North Tower

The first visible motion of the North Tower was the descent of the antenna mast, which fell about 12 feet before the top of the Tower's north facade began its descent. This frame-by-frame video shows the action clearly. The distinct motion of the mast and the upper facade means that the hat truss must have suffered massive damage before the mast started to drop, because the hat truss unified the structures of the core and perimeter wall and transferred loads from the antenna to the perimeter wall.

The downward motion of the mast invalidates the collapse theory because the impact and fire damage was more than 10 floors below the three top floors spanned by the massive angled I-beams of the hat truss. Even sudden failures of core columns would not have caused the sudden massive damage to the hat truss required to let the mast plunge. According to NIST's Final Report, the hat trusses were so robust, they played a key role in the Towers' self-destruction by transferring "column instability" back and forth between the cores and perimeter structures. According to NIST's logic the Towers would have survived had the designers left out the hat trusses!

Mackey presents NIST's brief explanation that the initial antenna drop as seen from the north was actually an optical illusion caused by the rotation of the antenna and hat truss to the south. This explanation is clearly wrong, as shown by the above video and this one from a more westerly vantage point. The antenna did rotate south seconds later, but the initial motion was almost entirely vertical.

Mackey adds his own explanation of the antenna drop -- that the hat truss buckled:

North Tower Antenna Drop

For this reason, at the moment of failure, we do indeed expect the core to collapse slightly before three of the four perimeter walls, and the fourth wall would be partly supported by the spandrels in addition to the hat truss. The hat truss will therefore buckle in the center first. This explains the “antenna drop” seen by FEMA and others
p.124

Can you imagine the criss-crossed matrix of I-beams that made up the hat truss bucking, even taking NIST's depiction of the structure as accurate?

South Tower

The sudden slowing of the rotation of the South Tower's upper 30-story block as it disappeared into the burgeoning explosion is the basis for a particularly obvious disproof of the collapse theory. The top began to topple at an accelerating rate, rotating about 20 degrees in two seconds so that its roof overhung its base by at least 80 feet at one point. Why, instead of toppling off of the base, did it telescope into the base?

South Tower Tipping and Disintegration

Dr. Griffin next turns to WTC 2, and claims that (1) the upper block should have fallen outside the building footprint, and (2) the block’s rotation should have continued as it fell, both according to conservation of momentum.

This, perhaps more than any other passage, confirms Dr. Griffin’s poor grasp of elementary physics.

This, perhaps more than any other passage, exhibits Mackey's dependence on insults to mask the absurdity of his arguments. Just try to follow his explanation for the slowing of the rotation of the South Tower's top. Does it make any sense at all?

Suppose we are treating the upper block, after all connections to the lower block have failed. If we treat it as a rigid object, it will be subject to two major forces: Gravity, acting through the center-of-mass and always pulling downward; and reactive forces from impacts with the lower structure, pushing predominantly upward, but acting at the point of contact and not necessarily through the center-of-mass. In our simplified model, apart from these two forces, the upper block retains its initial momentum, which is downward with some rotational momentum as well.

Before breaking completely free, the upper block will tilt around a loosely-defined hinge point, as discussed previously. The hinge creates a “force couple” – gravity pulling through the center balanced by an opposing force, at the hinge, pushing upwards and off-center. This is what leads to rotation. However, at no time is there a horizontal force, unless the upper block rotates so far that a hinge is a poor model of the interaction. This is not predicted. The “hinge” is likely to be a surviving series of columns bending but still supporting their load. These columns are predicted to buckle, snapping off at or near the hinge point, after only a few degrees of rotation – NIST estimates that the upper block rotated 7 to 8 degrees in one axis, and 3 to 4 degrees in another, prior to breaking the hinge [159]. The steel columns simply cannot provide support after being bent ten or twenty degrees. Also, if the “hinge” is closer to the middle and thus the center of mass, horizontal forces will be even smaller. This is true in this case – the hinge is predicted to pass through the core at an offset and an angle, as shown in NCSTAR1-6D in Figure 4-89 on page 256. As a result of the central location and small rotational tolerance of the hinge, the horizontal forces applied to the upper block are small, and thus there will be little or no horizontal movement.
p.125

In Mackey's tortured scenario, the columns on the east side of the Tower -- those directly under the center of mass of the rotating and falling top -- were somehow able to catch the top and impart the force necessary to reverse the rotation. That implies that the columns on the far side and the core -- which, being offset from the top's center of mass, would apply increasing torque to accelerate the top's rotation as it toppled -- had somehow ceased to interact with the top. If that were true, why didn't the west perimeter wall, unscathed by the top, remain standing -- why was it erased like the rest of the Tower's base in such a systematic top-down fashion?

Mackey's theory, though incredibly far fetched, may be the best that collapse theory supporters can offer. The behavior of the South Tower's top so clearly reveals that the top and bottom sections were disconnected -- i.e., there was no crush zone -- that even grade-school children quickly grasp this proof of demolition.

Mackey's argument is also laced with misleading implications, like "there was no horizontal force". No, Mr. Mackey, toppling produces a horizontal force that increases as the center of gravity is displaced laterally from the fulcrum, and the idea that the fulcrum magically moved eastward -- necessarily beyond the building's profile -- to catch the top is ludicrous.

In order for the structure to actually topple over sideways, the upper structure would have to rotate by, say, 45 degrees, which would put the centroid of the WTC 1 upper block approximately at the edge of the lower block.
p.106

To the contrary, in order for the structure to topple, the centroid of the upper block would have to be laterally offset from the fulcrum.

Consistency of Destruction

The thoroughness and the consistency of destruction of the Twin Towers is very well documented by surviving photographs of Ground Zero at various stages of excavation, and by accounts of clean-up workers, who describe being unable to find even a single recognizable piece of office equipment. Virtually the only recognizable objects in Ground Zero photographs are larger pieces of the Towers' steel skeleton and the exterior aluminum cladding. Even the smaller steel components were degraded beyond recognition. Just try to find a portion of one of the nearly 20,460 distinctive double trusses that supported the floors, or evidence of the nearly 10,000,000 square feet of corrugated floor pans. Of the nearly 2,800 people thought killed in the attack, only 300 whole bodies were found.

The destruction of the World Trade Center appears to have involved an entirely different order of thoroughness and consistency than can be found in any natural collapse event.

These facts, again, speak to an engineered, rather than a natural, process, since natural destructive processes involve a great deal of randomness, resulting in an asymmetric and uneven pattern of damage and destruction. The numerous examples of tall buildings destroyed by earthquakes, such as in Mexico City in 1985, Kobe, Japan in 1995, and Taichung, Taiwan in 1999, show, in every case, large portions of the buildings remaining intact. In no case do we see buildings thoroughly shredded like the Twin Towers.

Evidence of Incendiaries

Several independent lines of evidence indicate the use of aluminothermic incendiaries in the destruction of the WTC skyscrapers.

Mackey ignores some of the most obvious evidence of aluminothermic arson, such as the molten orange metal pouring out of WTC 2.

He addresses other features, like the iron-rich micro-spheres, but with tedious lists of possible explanations, few of which make sense. For example, he suggests that the sphere could have been from magnetic printer toner, which he claims have iron particles in that size range. Really? -- particles up to the 1.5mm diameter ones found in the dust? He also claims the quantity of the particles was "thought to be very small" because it was between 0.1 to 1.5 percent of the dust. But how small is that? Just 0.1 percent of 10,000 tons is 10 tons.

Mackey promotes the misconception that aluminothermic reactions are necessarily slow burning to argue that any residues would have to be large pools rather than small droplets.

One of the unmistakable problems with this theory is that, unlike the shaped charge above, thermite or any variant creates a large volume of molten iron, and rather than dispersing it explosively, this molten iron needs to be concentrated in one place to facilitate heat transfer to the structure. Containing thermite is nearly impossible (it can melt through most containers as well and tends to flow straight down as a result).
p.99

If this is true of conventional thermite, it is not true of "super-thermites" which, due to their higher reaction rate, have a more explosive character -- presumably enough to disperse the iron residue as micro-spheres.

The thermite hypothesis implies that we must find large pools of formerly molten iron in the debris pile – the leftover puddle from the thermite device itself. There are no such blobs or pools of iron.
p.100

Again Mackey denies an entire body of evidence flatly claiming that something doesn't exist as if omniscient.

Review of NIST's Methods

NIST was tasked with producing the definitive investigation of the event that has provided the pretext for the War on Terror -- a program to further bloat the $400+ billion military budget, to invade and occupy two central Asian nations and counting, and to justify a series of horrific human rights violations.

To accomplish this, NIST chose a decidedly different approach than FEMA's investigation that had concluded in May of 2002. The FEMA Report authors had framed their conclusions in somewhat guarded language, and ventured to explain the "Progression of Collapse" of each Tower (See Chapter 2, Section 2.2.1.5, and Section 2.2.2.6), and even included an Appendix disclosing a then unexplained severe corrosive attack on the steel -- a phenomenon later explained by Professor Steven Jones, who showed that the corrosion was consistent with an attack of the steel by aluminothermic incendiaries. In contrast, NIST avoided all of these troubling issues by pretending they didn't exist.

Avoiding Evidence of the Crime

NIST's investigation appears to be crafted to avoid evidence of the controlled demolition of Twin Towers and Building 7. Perhaps the most blatant example of this is NIST's explicit admission that their Final Report on the Collapse of the World Trade Center Towers did not include any analysis of the "collapse" itself. Rather, it limits its scope to points in time up to the alleged instants during which the Towers were "poised for collapse". NIST's Report avoids even looking at what, according to the logic of the collapse theory, are the two most spectacular and poorly-understood events in the history of structural engineering. Although NIST's Final Report includes a few paragraphs to address criticisms that its Draft Report avoids the evidence of controlled demolition, its response parrots discredited collapse theories and dismisses controlled demolition by proffering the misconception that demolition implies bottom-up and wrapping it in the cliched hoax that missiles struck the Towers.

Some other examples of ways in which NIST avoided evidence of the crime include:

Global Collapse Assumption

NIST's entire project to prop up the official explanation that the Twin Towers collapsed due to impact and fire damage rests on an unscientific assumption that NIST implies is an immutable fact: that "local collapse" automatically and inevitably leads to "global collapse". As I point out in Building a Better Mirage, NIST uses a variety of sleights of hand to conceal the fact that this is an enormous gaping assumption with no supporting evidence.

Mackey merely parrots NIST's premise that local collapse automatically leads to "global collapse", as if it were some sort of mathematical axiom.

All such connections will fail before the far corner of the structure descends by a single floor. This means that the local collapse leads to a global collapse in a period of less than one second.
p.110

How is Mackey confident that the failure of a corner of the Tower will lead to "global collapse" within one second? Apparently because he thinks the top will go into free-fall as soon as the corner collapses. But free-fall can't start until the mythical "global collapse" has begun. So Mackey assumes that a consequence of an event is the event's cause.

When Experiments Defy Conclusions, Use a Computer!

To support its theory that sagging of floor trusses pulled in the perimeter walls, leading to "column instability" and, eventually "global collapse", NIST built a model of a portion of one floor of a Tower: a 35-foot-wide trussed span supported at its ends like the actual floors were supported by the perimeter and core structures. When it subjected the model to extended fire tests using a furnace to heat its underside, the floor sagged only a few inches.

Not to be constrained by the physics of real-world models, NIST abandoned its physical tests and turned to computer modeling to get the several feet of floor sagging it needed for its theory. To obtain what Kevin Ryan calls the "triple double bare steel computer result", NIST created a computer model that doubled the height of the unsupported wall sections, doubled the temperatures, doubled the duration of the stress, and ignored the effect of insulation.

In its subsequent investigation of WTC 7, NIST abandoned physical testing entirely. It created a scenario, complete with nice computer graphics, in which a single beam, heated by fires, expands and thereby breaks free of its connections, taking down the entire skyscraper.

Using Disinformational Techniques

NIST's Final Report on the Twin Towers -- spanning nearly three hundred pages -- addressed the case for controlled demolition of the Towers in just one sentence, which it embeds in a nonsensical context so as to discredit it:

NIST found no corroborating evidence for alternative hypotheses suggesting that the WTC towers were brought down by controlled demolition using explosives planted prior to September 11, 2001. NIST also did not find any evidence that missiles were fired at or hit the towers. Instead, photos and videos from several angles clearly showed that the collapse initiated at the fire and impact floors and the collapse progressed from the initiating floors downward, until the dust clouds obscured the view.

NIST's gratuitous pairing of the controlled demolition hypothesis with the ludicrous idea that the something other than jetliners hit the Towers is difficult to interpret as anything other than an intentional use of disinformation to prejudice the reader against seriously considering the evidence for controlled demolition. NIST provides no hint of the breadth and depth of that evidence -- indeed the entire report lacks a single piece of visual evidence of the Towers exploding -- and instead sweeps that evidence under the rug of one of the most stereotypically stupid ideas about the attack, while blithely asserting that it couldn't find the demolition evidence.

NIST immediately follows its paring of demolition and missiles by implying that controlled demolitions of the Twin Towers could not start near the crash zones -- a misdirection that could easily fool a reader who assumes, incorrectly, that demolitions must proceed from the ground level upward.

A common feature shared by the points in this and other passages seemingly designed to mislead the reader is that they effectively imply something without asserting it. NIST's claim that they found no evidence for controlled demolition implies that it looked; its mention of missiles implies that hypotheses about demolition and missile attacks are linked; and its description of the 'collapse' starting at the impact floors 'instead' of somewhere else implies that controlled demolitions cannot be engineered to start from any location desired. This clever use of implication to suggest conclusions to the reader that are not made explicit is a common feature of government reports designed to conceal the truth.

The Opposite of Science

The characterization of NIST's methods as the opposite of science seems amply justified by the preceding survey. To summarize, NIST:

  • Pre-supposes its conclusions, basing its entire premise on an unscientific assumption (global collapse) which it passes off as axiomatic
  • Avoids whole bodies of evidence incompatible with its conclusions
  • Disregards, out of hand, hypotheses contrary to its preordained theory of collapse
  • Abandons physical experiments that defy its conclusions in favor of easily-manipulated computer simulations
  • Uses a variety of propagandistic techniques to conceal its failure to consider the breadth of evidence

Mackey's Methods

Mackey's article would be more persuasive to the rational and unbiased reader had he confined himself to the kinds of arguments addressed above. However, his article contains so many unsupported assertions, obviously fallacious arguments, and propagandistic techniques that one has to wonder: is he attempting to hide the weaknesses of his genuine arguments by so heavily loading his article with insults, innuendo, and sweeping conclusions of victory over the "charlatans"; or is he targeting an audience whose pre-disposition to accept the official story overshadows any interest in substantive debate?

Whatever Mackey's motives, a review of his methods that fall outside of the parameters of logical and fact-based arguments is instructive as a case study of how experts are employed to maintain official fictions that underlie great crimes.

Propaganda Rather than Science

Is Mackey's article defending the collapse theory science or propaganda? He certainly tries to equate the collapse theory with science -- and equate critics of it with 'the charlatans'. Let's look at some of his methods to answer this question.

Unscientific language throughout

One need only read a few paragraphs of any part of Mackey's essay to be impressed by his fondness for sweeping statements of fact, unqualified statements, and statements with universal qualifiers. Real scientists seldom make such sweeping statements, because such statements are rarely true.

Dismissive and derogatory language

Throughout his article, Mackey uses dismissive and derogatory language to describe Griffin and anyone questioning the official story. This is reflected in his section titles such as "Legitimate Criticism of the NIST Report", which declares as illegitimate any criticism that questions the collapse premise.

This debate [between variants of the collapse theory] still continues in universities, engineering societies, and NIST itself. But it is important to note that there is an instantly recognizable difference in quality between these differing professional opinions, and those promoted by the Truth Movement ...
p.173

Unqualified praise for the official account

Mackey's descriptions might have greater superficial plausibility were they less frantic in their endorsement of the collapse theory. In his world, criticism of the official story is "legitimate" as long as it doesn't seriously consider controlled demolition. The collapse theory is agreed to by "responsible scientists" while the controlled demolition theory is sold by "charlatans".

In his world, NIST can do no wrong, having conducted an investigation that is "a part of scientific thinking", and having given us a "meticulous final report", while making their methods and conclusions "available for scrutiny and criticism". But Dr. Griffin is "incorrect in every major detail", making points that "merit no attention whatsoever".

Such stark pronouncements of endorsement and condemnation are the stock and trade of propaganda, not science.

Discrediting through caricature

Mackey's use of propaganda is illustrated in his Introduction, in which he presents an over-simplified caricature of the position articulated by the more credible critics of the official story.

A Pearl Harbor MIHOP theory would require that the Imperial Japanese Navy did not attack at all, but instead that the United States scuttled its own warships or perhaps attacked itself, blaming the attack on an innocent Empire of Japan, in what is frequently termed a "false-flag operation."
p.2

This tortured analogy seems designed to prejudice the reader against considering "MIHOP" theories about the 9/11 attack, whose fundamental differences from Pearl Harbor include the lack of squadrons of clearly identifiable foreign aircraft and the lack of an ongoing war. Mackey's Pearl Harbor "MIHOP" scenario suggests that he doesn't understand the basic concepts of false flag operations, which typically use patsies in order to support a public narrative of the event while controlling the outcome.

Examples of documented false flag operations are mentioned above.

The MIHOP group, on the other hand, contends that the plan was conceived and executed by the United States Government, or at least powerful figures therein, and that the real attacks happened in a completely different fashion, since the MIHOP hypothesis is totally incompatible with al-Qaeda sponsorship.
p.1

Here, Mackey exploits a popular straw man caricature of alternative theories as blaming a monolithic all-powerful "United States Government", when in reality that entity is vast and complex and comprised mostly of normal, ethical people. Furthermore most challengers of the official WTC collapse theory don't subscribe to Mackey's false dichotomy between al Qaeda involvement and orchestration by insiders.

The oft-cited "LIHOP" versus "MIHOP" classification functions in several ways. In the hands of debunkers like Mackey, it over-simplifies the likely alternative scenarios into cartoon stereotypes in which "MIHOP" bundles serious challenges to the official collapse theory with the most absurd theories of the attack, such as that missile-launching pods equipped the planes that attacked the Twin Towers.

The artificial "LIHOP"/"MIHOP" dichotomy also glosses over the fact that a successful false flag operation necessarily involves "LIHOP" elements -- from the involvement of patsies, to the acquiescence of officials who allow the attack to proceed, and help to prop up the official narrative in the aftermath.

Mackey's fondness for labeling alternative theories, and his use of empty characterizations like "dizzying diversity of beliefs", "Truth Movement folklore", and "magnet for conspiracy theories" is divorced from contextual historical realities of documented false pretexts for war.

Mackey continues with his caricature:

Dr. Griffin and many of his colleagues have adopted the argument that, since they are merely questioning a theory rather than presenting one of their own, only a single question must be correct (that is to say, "unanswered," as a question contains no veracity on its own by definition) in order to disprove the so-called "official theory" of the September 11th attacks. This is illogical and scientifically unsound.
p.4

Here, Mackey falsely reframes challengers of the official story as assuming for themselves a ridiculously small burden of proof, providing no examples to support his blithe assertion. To see how distorted Mackey's description of Griffin's methods are, just read the excerpt from Omissions and Distortions in which Griffin makes a persuasive argument for the theory of controlled demolition of the Twin Towers and Building 7.

Baseless Assertions

This section lists some examples of Mackey's many errors of fact and unsupported conclusions. It does not begin to address the breadth of such errors, nor any of the new batch of errors provided by Version 2 of his essay.

Jumping to conclusions

One example of jumping to conclusions is Mackey's implicit conclusion that observations from one Tower apply to the other.

Unfortunately for Dr. Griffin's argument, orange flames are evident all over the WTC fires. Examples include Figures 8-9 through 8-11 of NCSTAR1-5A, where orange flames can be seen emerging from windows, some with tongues rising for several floors outside the structure.
p.30

Note how Mackey's description ignores location and time, as if the fires in all three buildings are all one uniform event. It is difficult to find flames in any of the visual records of the South Tower after about 9:40 AM.

It should be obvious that an individual inside the building would be at a disadvantage to appreciate the full size of the fire, compared to one watching from outside, observing its progress across multiple faces and multiple floors. Even without this observation, both accounts selected by Dr. Griffin are completely consistent with the NIST conclusions.
p.32

Here, again, Mackey conflates the fires in the two Towers. The NIST Report has only one snapshot of fires in the South Tower, compared to two of those in the North Tower, apparently to conceal the fact that fires in the South Tower were subsiding over time.

However, it in no way suggests that the collapses themselves were at all unexpected. As we see in this example, responsible scientists agree that there is no evidence of an "inside job," using fully independent investigations and methods.
p.178

To support his assertion that Griffin's work is pseudo-science, Mackey quotes a passage from Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science by Martin Gardner, which contains the following:

There are five ways in which the sincere pseudo-scientist's paranoid tendencies are likely to be exhibited.
(1) He considers himself a genius.
(2) He regards his colleagues, without exception, as ignorant blockheads ...
(3) He believes himself unjustly persecuted and discriminated against ...
(4) He has strong compulsions to focus his attacks on the greatest scientists ...
(5) He often has a tendency to write in a complex jargon ...
We find these general characteristics are a good fit to the ideas in Dr. Griffin's book.
p.170-171

To support (2), Mackey quotes Griffin alleging that NIST scientists have knowingly participated in the cover-up. To support (3), Mackey quotes Griffin noting that challenges to NIST's account are often dismissed as "based on wild conspiracy theories". To support (4), Mackey cites Griffin's "singl[ing] out" the 9/11 Commission Report, the book Without Precedent, and the book Debunking 9/11 Myths. To support (5), Mackey cites the term 'Truth Movement', the term 'squibs', the "repeated misuse" of the phrase 'controlled demolition', and various slogans Mackey has heard from the "Truth Movement".

Mackey takes all of these quotes by Griffin out of context, as if they are the kinds of bare assertions Mackey is so fond of. But, in any case, note the stretch in matching Gardner's pseudo-science criteria to Griffin's work. Apparently, Mackey equates any allegations of a cover-up with paranoid delusions of persecution, and considers the authors of the 9/11 Commission Report (many of whom were involved in other fraudulent government-sponsored investigations) and Debunking 9/11 Myths the world's greatest scientists.

Gaping assertions

The WTC case is also an unusually large fire, moving slowly from one side of the building to another, and can thus sustain local areas of extremely high temperatures for much longer than a simple office fire can.
p.29

Here again Mackey describes the two Towers as if they were one. The "unusually large fire" in the South Tower, which never moved to the other side of the building, appeared to be dying out prior to the building's destruction.

NIST itself gathered similar results by conducting its own full-scale fire test, found in NCSTAR1-5E, in which a series of cubicle offices were built in a faithful recreation of a WTC floor, and set alight with carefully measured quantities of jet fuel.
p.29

The "faithfulness" of NIST's recreation of WTC fires is undermined somewhat by its need to introduce a 1-3 megawatt burner to achieve the 1000°C near ceiling temperatures.

Finally, Dr. Griffin's observation about the "ordinary" character of the WTC fires is baffling. WTC 1 and 2 were at the time, in terms of involved floor area, the largest single-structure office fires in history. The author is confident that this fact alone qualifies the fires as extraordinary, even before including the additional factors caused by the aircraft impacts. These records have only been broken once – they were eclipsed later that same day by WTC 7.
p.30

So the only building fire in history that exceeded the intensity of those in the Twin Towers were those in WTC 7? Is this a joke?

Even without the NIST calculations, video evidence demonstrates that the structures gradually degraded as they burned, with remaining exterior columns bowing inwards until the structures buckled and then collapsed.
p.66

The alleged structural degradation is not evident in surviving photographs and videos of the Towers between 8:46 AM and 9:59 AM, archived by 9-11 Research, which show no motion before the precipitous onset of each destruction event. NIST has only produced one photograph allegedly showing bowing of columns in the North Tower, and two photographs allegedly showing bowing of columns in the South Tower; and, assuming the photographs were not edited, there are other explanations for the appearance, such as the refraction of light by heated air near the building's facade.

Dr. Griffin's claims are sharply inconsistent with all of these facts and more. In the face of this vast scope of investigation, involving literally tens of thousands of professionals in virtually every category, Dr. Griffin's claims – such as his incredulous assertions that the fires were too small, the dust clouds were too big, or the collapses happened too fast – merit no attention whatsoever.
p.193

The NIST Report had a handful of authors, who overlapped with the handful of volunteers who authored the earlier, and essentially unfunded, FEMA Report. Some of the very same people were involved in the Weidlinger Report (which came to entirely different conclusions than either the NIST or FEMA Reports.) Still more interesting is the fact that authors of the official report on the Oklahoma City Bombing -- Gene Corley, Charles Thornton, Paul Mlaker, and Mete Sozen -- was a subset of the initial team of ASCE volunteers that investigated the WTC "collapses". See this summary of the various inquiries.

The number of individuals responsible for the official reports appears to be closer to a dozen than Mackey's imagined legions of professionals.

It is clear from an analysis of Dr. Griffin's approach thus far that he is in a poor position to judge the scientific merit of any investigation. This is in keeping with the fact that, to date, he has yet to identify any valid criticism or any actual errors present in the NIST report.
p.172

Factual errors

Whereas most of Mackey's assertions are of at least arguable validity, it is not difficult to spot outright factual errors in his article.

Shaped charges are also precluded by the other available evidence, in particular the nonexistence of seismic or audio evidence of their use.
p.99

Mackey implies that shaped charges would have been detectable in seismic records -- a dubious proposition for which he fails to give any argument -- and asserts there is no audio evidence, as if the scores of eyewitness accounts of explosion sounds and video recordings capturing the same don't exist.

The NIST Report itself bears up well in comparison to the Scientific Method, as it provides a concise and quantified hypothesis,
p.191

This is partially true: NIST's hypothesis is concise: it's either a couple of paragraphs or a single sentence, depending on whether Mackey is referring to NIST's pre-collapse hypothesis, reproduced here, or its collapse hypothesis, which is "and global collapse ensued". But neither has any quantification.

Although Drs. Jones and Fetzer were instrumental in the creation of the Journal of 9/11 Studies, a vehicle masquerading as a peer-reviewed publication as we have previously discussed.
p.160

In fact Dr. Fetzer had no significant role in the creation of the Journal of 9/11 Studies, nor is he an editor or reviewer.

Dr. Griffin’s next topic confuses the issues of collapse initiation and collapse of the entire structure, and complains that NIST did not adequately explain why a partial collapse should lead to a total collapse:
NIST’s new document, perhaps in response to Hoffman’s critique, acknowledges the fact that "[a] key critique of NIST’s work lies in the complete lack of analysis supporting a ‘progressive collapse’ after the point of collapse initiation." The lack of any quantitative analysis, however, is not remedied in the NIST’s new document. It simply makes vague statements like the following:

Based on [its] comprehensive investigation, NIST concluded that the WTC towers collapsed because [after the planes caused damage, the fires] significantly weakened the floors and columns with dislodged fireproofing to the point where floors sagged and pulled inward on the perimeter columns. This led to the inward bowing of the perimeter columns and failure . . . , initiating the collapse of each of the towers. [58]
The first quoted passage above presumably comes from Hoffman. The cited passage from NIST has been italicized to distinguish it from Dr. Griffin’s words. Editorial text above appears in Dr. Griffin’s book, excepting only my note afterwards.
p.43

No, the first quoted passage is not from me but, as Griffin states, from NIST's new document -- its Answers to Frequently Asked Questions. It is Question 2, which reads,

2. Why did NIST not consider a “controlled demolition” hypothesis with matching computer modeling and explanation as it did for the "pancake theory" hypothesis? A key critique of NIST's work lies in the complete lack of analysis supporting a "progressive collapse" after the point of collapse initiation and the lack of consideration given to a controlled demolition hypothesis.

The question is not difficult to find. Has Mackey even read the FAQ? Mackey's erroneous attribution of NIST's sentence to me is interesting because it suggests that, unlike NIST, he is unable to even acknowledge the possibility that there are valid criticisms to NIST's "theory".

Griffin in no way "confuses the issues of collapse initiation and collapse of the entire structure". He simply points out NIST's failure to provide any argument that total collapse automatically follows from "collapse initiation". In its answer to Question 2, NIST begs the question by reiterating its pre-collapse scenario, and then changes the subject by declaring that it doesn't support the "pancake theory". Mackey plays a similar game of distraction:

I say that Dr. Griffin is confused because, with reference to NIST’s statement above, NIST is thoroughly quantitative. The amount of inward pull from sagging floors was computed as a function of time, based on the fire and structural simulations and observations of the perimeter columns.
p.43

Mackey is using a straw man tactic, because Griffin is clearly indicting NIST's total collapse theory as vague, not some aspect of its pre-collapse scenario. Indeed the totality of NIST's reports contain mountains of (mostly irrelevant) detail. The problem is that the detail and quantification of NIST's scenarios are inversely proportional to their relevance to the central question of what caused the Towers to "collapse".

The NIST methods and conclusions are available for scrutiny and criticism.
p.10

This is half true -- NIST's conclusions are available, but the methods on which it based its conclusions are not. For example, NIST has refused to publish its computer models described in its Final Report. It doesn't even tell us if these models show the kinds of local collapse events that it leads us to believe they showed. It admits that it replaced more realistic values in its models with less realistic ones which were more favorable to the collapse theory, but it doesn't show us the results of those. Was this admission of fudging the model parameters just a clever ruse to lead the reader to assume that the more favorable parameters lead to a collapse event, when NIST couldn't even get its computer models to collapse? We don't know because NIST's investigation is so opaque.

What were the methods NIST used to come up with its Global Analysis in which "column instability" spread like a contagion via the hat truss? Did its (already highly contrived) computer models show anything even approaching this scenario?

The NIST Report boasts about the thousands of photographs and videos they used, but we, the public and the scientific community, aren't allowed to see this evidence. NIST's Report claims that it "found no corroborating evidence for alternative hypotheses suggesting that the WTC towers were brought down by controlled demolition using explosives". Did it look?

Logical Fallacies

Logical fallacies are incorrect conclusions reached through faulty reasoning. In this section I identify several logical fallacies found in Mackey's essay. While some of his fallacies involve the use of misleading representations -- such as misleading omissions and misleading paraphrasing of the 9-11 Research website -- others involve common appeals to authority and emotions.

Misleading paraphrasing

In contrast to creating a straw man argument by selective quoting, doing so by paraphrasing is easy: just twist the words of your opponent as necessary.

Dr. Griffin next uses the presence of black smoke as an argument that the fire was oxygen starved, and therefore at temperatures well below 1000 degrees Celsius. He further cites James Hoffman as stating that temperatures of 800 to 1100°C can occur in building fires, but only for brief, unsustainable periods known as “flashovers.”
...
Hoffman’s assertion regarding maximum fire temperatures is contradicted by professional fire scientists. As one example, a reference office fire test [42] conducted in the United Kingdom, as part of the Cardington experiments in 1998, demonstrated that "cellulosic," or largely wood- and paper-based fires, can easily send atmospheric temperatures 10 cm below roof decking above 1000°C and sustain this temperature for several minutes, and remain over 800°C for over half an hour. This same test showed temperatures 1.8 m below the decking to rise as high as 1200°C, and remain above 1000 degrees for ten minutes. Modern offices, containing more plastics, are seen to reach even higher temperatures of up to 1300°C, after which they approximate the cellulosic curve.
p.29

Here, Mackey misquotes me to assert that I made a factual error, by omitting qualifiers and putting words in my mouth. The actual quotation, from Building a Better Mirage and excerpted in Chapter 3 without the bracketed passages, is:

Temperatures of 800°C to 1,100°C (1472°F to 2012°F) are normally observed only for brief times in building fires, in a phenomenon known as flashover. Flashover occurs when uncombusted gases accumulate near the ceilings and then suddenly ignite. Since flame consumes the pre-heated fuel-air mixture in an instant, very high temperatures are produced for a few seconds. [ Note that this temperature range includes the 900°C recorded using the megawatt super-burner, so they must have had to pour on quite a lot of jet fuel. ]

The first section of the Report describing the fires deceptively implies that 1,000°C (1832°F) temperatures (rarely seen in even momentary flashovers) were sustained [, and that they were in the building's core].

Note that, contrary to Mackey, I make no "assertion regarding maximum fire temperatures".

Mackey cites the Cardington experiments to support his claim that the hydrocarbon-fueled fires can sustain temperatures exceeding 1000°C, but it doesn't follow that such temperatures are typically reached in actual building fires. The Cardington experiments, like other such fire tests, were designed to see how structures behave in hot fires -- at the high end of temperatures that the scientists think might be reached in a building fire, not the likely temperatures.

And, despite the fact that the Cardington tests heated steel to temperatures hundreds of degrees hotter than any temperatures NIST claims to have estimated from studies of WTC structural steel samples, no collapse was observed in any of the experiments.

During and after the fire, despite large deflections in the elements exposed to fire, the structure behaved well and there was no collapse of any of the columns, beams or floors.

Misleading omissions

Mackey must be less impressed with Bazant's hastily published paper explaining the collapses than he admits, since he resorts to using a strategic omission to misrepresent my critique of it.

Much like the Ronan Point collapse, Dr. Griffin and his colleagues are well aware of this paper, although neither they nor anyone else has put forth any proper challenge. While they are either incapable of or perhaps simply not interested in publishing a different viewpoint, Hoffman has an entire page devoted to this paper on his 9-11 Research website. He disputes its findings as follows:
Zdenek Bazant and Yong Zhou must be super-geniuses. They were able to understand how two skyscrapers could crush themselves to rubble, a newly observed behavior for steel structures, and write a paper about it in just two days.
  • It implies that the columns were capable of supporting only twice the gravity loads they were bearing above the impact zone. This ignores the fact that the upper floors, lacking standing-room-only crowds, were not carrying their design live loads, and it implies that reserve strength ratios (the extra strength designed into a structure beyond what is required to resist anticipated loads) are two-to-one instead of the five-to-one typical in engineered steel structures.
  • It implies that a failure of the columns to support the gravity loads above the impact zones would automatically lead to total collapse, despite the absence of a single example of a local collapse event leading to total collapse in any steel-framed building.
The first claim is wrong but also irrelevant – while the assumption used in Bazant & Zhou is a simplification, their final result demonstrates that the columns would have to have been designed to handle over sixteen times their actual load before collapse could have been arrested. Hoffman further provides no evidence of his five-to-one safety factor, even though it would be insufficient anyway. NCSTAR1-1 verifies in detail that the structure did not contain even a five-to-one reserve capacity.

The second claim is simply wrong. Far from assuming that the failure would lead to a total collapse, Drs. Bazant and Zhou provide the calculations demonstrating that it would, as I have summarized above. Hoffman’s complaints are incorrect and simply do not refute Bazant & Zhou’s hypothesis.
p.47-48

The first thing I note is that Mackey omits the quote from Bazant and Zhou that I am responding to in his excerpt from my page Bazant and Zhou: Explaining the Collapses With Elastic Dynamic Analysis. That quote is:

[... if the] majority of columns of a single floor to lose their load carrying capacity, the whole tower was doomed.

This quote provides essential context and by omitting it, Mackey is able to deceptively misrepresent my arguments. Note that the assertion from Bazant and Zhou is describing the static situation before any movement has occurred. The sixteen-fold load factor Mackey uses to counter my first argument is based on a hypothetical dynamic state in which the top has already fallen an entire floor (in free fall, as if the columns on that floor suddenly vanished).

My second argument is in no way answered by any calculation of Bazant and Zhou. My argument is the simple empirical one that, lacking any example or experiment that shows that a collapse at the top of such a structure can lead to total top-down collapse, it's unscientific to assume that the phenomenon exists.

Bazant and Zhou's mathematical model is so far divorced from the physical world that it has no applicability to it. It assumes not only that the upper block of the Tower remains perfectly aligned over the lower portion, it also assumes that every column section in the upper block remains perfectly aligned over its corresponding section in the lower block. Bazant and Zhou don't acknowledge these assumptions -- or numerous other assumptions -- which are in blatant disagreement with the features of the destruction events documented by the visual records.

Also, Mackey conveniently omits mention of the show-stopping explicit assumption of Bazant and Zhou that all of the columns on one floor were heated to 800°C.

Misleading descriptions

Mackey uses misleading language to imply that Griffin's book on the Commission Report was addressed by Popular Mechanics:

His previous works, including The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions [2], have helped motivate other authors disagreeing with his opinions to publish rebuttals, with the most well-known being Debunking 9/11 Myths: Why Conspiracy Theories Can't Stand Up To the Facts [3] from the editors of Popular Mechanics magazine.
p.1

In fact, neither the book Debunking 9/11 Myths, nor the 2005 Popular Mechanics article on which it is based, even mention Omissions and Distortions, and Popular Mechanics has addressed only a small fraction of the issues raised in this book.

Where NIST implied that most of Flight 175 hit the core Mackey takes the lie a step further by strongly implying that it was only the right engine -- rather than everything except its left engine and wing -- that missed the core.

He then focuses his attention on the South Tower, for which models predict 10 destroyed core columns, whereas the North Tower only suffered an estimated six core columns destroyed. He states this is impossible, given that the South Tower was hit lower where core columns were thicker; the South Tower was hit off-center, and one engine of Flight 175 never hit the core at all; and that the wings of the aircraft could not have destroyed any core columns. He finishes by calling attention to the fact that NIST ran a range of cases, predicting 10 columns destroyed at most and only 3 at least, and states that NIST selected the worst case because, and only because, it was the only case that would lead to a collapse.
...
What about the right engine of Flight 175? It is true that this engine never contacted the core. However, the engine weighs approximately 9,000 pounds [32], or only about 4% of the weight of Flight 175 at time of impact. This means that no more than 4% of the total kinetic energy missed the core because of the engine's path.
p.16-18

Given that most of the fuselage popped out of the Tower's northeast corner, it would be surprising if more than 20 percent of the mass of Flight 175 was intercepted by the core. Mackey makes it sound like more than 90 percent was.

Appeals to ridicule

Mackey indulges in fallacies even in his paper's abstract, where he begins to dish out the insults.

His introduction to fringe beliefs regarding September 11th and the works of Dr. Griffin came through informal Internet discussions hosted by the James Randi Educational Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising public awareness of paranormal and pseudoscientific fraud.
p.iii

Mackey again heaps on the ridicule in his Conclusion.

As we have seen, thus far his efforts fall well below the most basic principles of the scientific method. Until this is rectified, there is no reason to take his conclusions seriously.
p.192
More importantly, not even these alleged experts have produced any result worthy of review, let alone anything reviewed and accepted, that supports Dr. Griffin's conclusions.
p.192

Appeals to prejudice

The debate over the NIST report is alive and well in the scientific community, but it does not include Dr. Griffin. His hypothesis, never supported to begin with, is simply a dead end. There is no justification for study of planted explosives in the WTC Towers, and given the total lack of supporting evidence or data, no way to begin.
p.190

In this passage, we again see overtones of omniscience, and hints of desperation that researchers will continue to study the evidence of explosives.

Emotional appeals

A lengthy retelling of Ryan's legal troubles with UL is outside the scope of this paper, having nothing to do with the NIST report proper, and will be left to Appendix A.
p.34

From Mackey's description, the reader might assume that Ryan is the defendant in some legal action -- the opposite of the reality in which UL is the defendant.

[Ryan] sought retribution from UL, his former employer, and brought a civil suit [249] against them for improper termination ...
p.195

To describe Kevin Ryan's wrongful termination lawsuit as "retribution" is a transparent attempt by Mackey to impute sinister motives on Ryan.

...
Finding the occasional straw of truth awash in a great ocean of confusion and bamboozle requires vigilance, dedication, and courage. But if we don't practice these tough habits of thought, we cannot hope to solve the truly serious problems that face us – and we risk becoming a nation of suckers, a world of suckers, up for grabs by the next charlatan who saunters along. [246]

p.193-194

Here Mackey misuses the words of Carl Sagan, who died in 1996, in a mean-spirited ad-hominem attack against Griffin, lending the implication that researchers like Griffin are charlatans special emphasis as the closing sentence of his article. Were Sagan still alive, he might find Mackey, not Griffin, the charlatan. My guess is that Sagan -- an activist for social justice causes who was arrested for civil disobedience -- would be far more likely to challenge the pretext for the War on Terror than to defend it, much less prop it up with a fallacy-laden hit-piece. I find Mackey's use of Sagan's words appallingly cynical.

It is interesting that Sagan's first wife, biologist Lynn Margulis, is an outspoken critic of the official story of 9/11 and has praised the work of Dr. Griffin, writing:

The 9/11 tragedy is the most successful and most perverse publicity stunt in the history of public relations. I arrive at this conclusion largely as the result of the research and clear writing by David Ray Griffin in his fabulous books about 9/11. I first met him when he was a speaker at a scholarly conference unrelated to 9/11. He immediately impressed me as a brilliant, outstanding philosopher - theologian - author, a Whiteheadian scholar motivated by an intense curiosity to know everything possible about the world.

On the plane home and for the next two days I did little else but read Griffin’s first book about 9/11, The New Pearl Harbor. From there I went on to read his even more disturbing account of the bogus 9/11 Commission Report, The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions, which provides overwhelming evidence that the official story is contradictory, incomplete, and unbelievable.

It is clear to me that David Ray Griffin and his fellow critics are correct: the 9/11 "new Pearl Harbor" was planned in astonishing detail and carried out through the efforts of a sophisticated and large network of operatives. It was more complex and far more successful than the Allende assassination, the US bombing of our own ship the "Maine" that began the Spanish-American war (and brought us Guam, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Philippines), the Reichstag fire that was used to justify the suspension of most civil liberties in Germany in the 1930's, and even Operation Himmler, which was used by Germany to justify the invasion of Poland, which started World War II.

Whoever is responsible for bringing to grisly fruition this new false-flag operation, which has been used to justify the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as unprecedented assaults on research, education, and civil liberties, must be perversely proud of their efficient handiwork. Certainly, 19 young Arab men and a man in a cave 7,000 miles away, no matter the level of their anger, could not have masterminded and carried out 9/11: the most effective television commercial in the history of Western civilization.

I suggest that those of us aware and concerned demand that the glaringly erroneous official account of 9/11 be dismissed as a fraud and a new, thorough, and impartial investigation be undertaken.

Margulis is credited with the endosymbiotic theory of the origin of eukaryotic organelles, which she originally proposed in her 1966 paper The Origin of Mitosing Eukaryotic Cells. At first, her theory was rejected by the scientific establishment, but her paper was finally published in The Journal of Theoretical Biology, and is now widely accepted.

The experience of Margulis and other dissidents of contemporary orthodoxy like Galileo Galilei and Alfred Wegener exposes the shallowness of Mackey's equating the truth of an idea with its popularity among people with certain credentials.

Appeals to common belief

The author agrees with Mr. Meigs that the "official theory" of the September 11th disaster is, scientifically speaking, essentially a consensus.
p.173

Anyone who has examined the FEMA Building Performance Study, the Weidlinger Report and the NIST Report on the Twin Towers would be hard-pressed to understand how the widely differing collapse hypotheses are in any sense a consensus. Indeed, their only consensus is that they unscientifically exclude any hypothesis that the buildings were demolished.

Appeals to authority

Here are just a few illustrative examples of the logical fallacy that runs through Mackey's essay: the appeal to or argument from authority.

Yet there is not a single published example of a scientist claiming, as Dr. Griffin does, that the progressive collapse hypothesis is impossible –- this is unthinkable if it was truly as obvious as he claims. We have no choice but to conclude that he is mistaken.
p.54

To the contrary, Scientist Steven E. Jones stated as much in his 2005 paper Why Indeed Did the WTC Buildings Collapse? And even if one excludes this article because it is no longer on the Brigham Young University website, how could Mackey possibly know that there are no other such published examples? Regardless, there is the recent counter-example of the 2008 publication of an article in the Open Civil Engineering Review at least suggesting that the top-down total progressive collapse theory is impossible.

Furthermore, it's not difficult to understand why mainstream publications would be reluctant to publish the work of scientists contesting the collapse theory. As a counter-example to Mackey's implicit point that science necessarily emanates from such publications, note the blatantly unscientific straw man attack published by Scientific American in 2005.

There is no reason whatsoever to consider their statements in any way superior to those of experts, either present or reviewing information after the fact, and these experts are overwhelmingly opposed to Dr. Griffin's theory of planted explosives.
p.87

Who are the alleged experts that Mackey claims obviate the accounts of eyewitnesses to the events? The authors of the NIST report? In contrast to the emergency responders who described the sights and sounds of demolition, none of the authors of NIST's report were witnesses of the destruction, and all of them were employed to support the government's explanation of the events.

Appeals to omniscience

The absolute certitude of so many of Mackey's pronouncements about what is now and will ever be known about the destruction of the Twin Towers evokes an authority beyond mere experts: only God would be able to know if there was no evidence of explosives.

The sound of a shaped charge destroying a steel column is at best no quieter than the sound of that same column being broken mechanically, which is quite loud. There are no signs of penetrator materials or of secondary damage from shrapnel or pieces of penetrators.
p.99

Is Mackey omniscient? Did he look at structural steel before it was expeditiously removed from Ground Zero to be recycled?

It is also clear that, as these studies progress, we will move still farther away from any hypothesis involving explosives.
p.190

Not only does Mackey purport to have a God's-eye view of all the debris, he is also confident enough to predict the future.

Because the evidence is and will foreseeably remain overwhelmingly contrary to Dr. Griffin ...
p.192
[Dr. Quintiere] believes that the fire insulation as-built was inadequate, and the fuel load on the fire floors was significantly above the conservative NIST estimate – factors that, if present, would make collapse of the WTC Towers completely inevitable after impact.
p.189
NIST is not and never has been aware of any such evidence. Evidence for explosives does not exist. The NIST study proves that the collapses were expected, in the manner and timing they were observed, without explosives being involved in any way.
p.128

Methinks the man doth protest too much.

Presupposing conclusions

NIST gave us the Twin Towers "poised for collapse", having provided a couple of paragraphs of "conditions for collapse initiation". But whereas NIST tells us that "global collapse" was the "inevitable" outcome only in the case of the World Trade Center, Mackey tells us that other skyscrapers have narrowly escaped similar fates.

... [the Madrid skyscraper] experienced a partial collapse of its steel components only escaping total collapse due to its concrete construction.
p.40

Mackey's unqualified confidence that the Madrid skyscraper would have totally collapsed if it were steel-framed is in stark contrast to the fact that fire has never caused the collapse of a steel-framed high-rise.

Straw-man arguments

Many in the Truth Movement have expanded on this point: While admitting the collapses took longer than an actual free-fall from that height, they still contend that 15 to 20 seconds is "virtually" free-fall speed, and thus unexpected. To my knowledge, none presenting such an assertion has provided a supporting computation, with the lone exception of Dr. Judy Wood [69], who proposes a number equal to or exceeding Dr. Griffin's 45 second estimate.
p.52

Mackey's knowledge is lacking. The page Simulations: Modeling Aspects of the Twin Towers' Collapse has existed since late 2003, with the simpler of the two computer models used to calculate total collapse times based on momentum analysis. The more detailed model was added in November of 2006. Also, several papers on the Journal of 9/11 Studies provide detailed analysis on collapse times.

Since Mackey ignores credible estimates of collapse times in favor of Judy Wood's -- which is widely rejected by the 9/11 research community -- it is difficult to see this as anything but a straw man argument.

Conclusion

Mackey's long-winded article seems designed to give the appearance of having addressed Chapter 3 of Griffin's Debunking 9/11 Debunking, but the more one examines his article, the more fallacies and baseless assertions become apparent.

Mackey's reliance on fallacies and assertions is not surprising when one considers the difficulty of his assignment: defend NIST's collapse theory, which is no theory at all but a hollow assumption: that "global collapse" automatically follows from "collapse initiation". Given the utterly unscientific nature of NIST's "investigation", what better way to defend it than to pretend that it's thoroughly scientific, endorsed by legions of scientists and professionals, and that it's those questioning the collapse premise who are "[il]legitimate" "disconnected from the scientific community", "[un]worthy of review", and pursuing a "dead end" that is "total[ly] lack[ing] supporting evidence or data" and "merit[s] no attention whatsoever".