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9/11 Conspiracy Wackos Disrupt Bill Maher

October 19, 2007 was the wildest Bill Maher show ever. Several people screaming about WTC “building 7” and other incomprehensible nonsense disrupted Maher’s panel discussion, and had to be forcibly removed from the audience. At one point, Maher himself got up, waded into the audience and threatened to “kick their asses.” In an obviously planned maneuver, the protesters waited for the previous shouter to be thrown out and the ruckus to die down before starting to shout again. I think I counted 5 separate interruptions, but it could have been more.

Fully 33% of Americans still think 9/11 was an inside job. And some of them are upset enough to disrupt live television and risk arrest. A friend was talking to me about this yesterday, supporting the “controlled demolition” conspiracy theory, and he’s a smart guy. He’s also wrong. I’ve posted on this before, in my book review of 102 Minutes. Suffice it to say that the engineering reports, extensive photographs and videotapes, and exhaustive computer simulations document a progressive collapse of the buildings, brought on by structural weakening due to extreme heat caused by jet fuel. End of story.

So what is it that makes this tripe–this mental garbage, this fantasy–so attractive to a third of Americans? Consider the implications for a scared population: that 19 religious fanatics successfully carried out this plan with absolutely no military response–in fact no American defensive response at all except for the heroes on Flight 93–shows up a tremendous vulnerability in our free society. It is a fatal flaw that cannot be addressed despite all the wiretapping, torture and the pernicious erosion of our freedoms. Because a future threat will not be from airplanes, but could come from any direction using any conceivable method. The effort to stop future plots involves amazing amounts of surveillance which can never be 100% effective (never mind Constitutional). The terrorists only need to succeed once to wreak new levels of havoc, and they never stop trying. In short, our illusion of safety has been permanently shattered.

On the other hand, if we accept the conspiracist beliefs that 9/11 was an “inside job,” all we have to do is expose the crooks in our own government, and we become safe again. Clearly a much easier task. In short, like religion, 9/11 conspiracy thinking provides a reduction in stress for worried people. A third of them have obviously chosen this easy route rather than confronting the much more difficult truth. As ever, this preference for comfort over truth remains humanity’s most tragic weakness.


Comments (15 comments)

Alyssa / October 20th, 2007, 7:53 am / #1

It is nice to see a well-reasoned perspective.
You are a skillful writer.

The Flying Trilobite / October 20th, 2007, 8:50 am / #2

Very well said, particularly the last line.

Skeptic Magazine published an excellent report about 9/11 conspiricies. It’s conclusion: it happened, and conspiricy theorists are often distorting data, or editing footage dishonestly.

Arthur Scheuerman / October 21st, 2007, 7:07 am / #3

Very good comment. NIST did not examine the collapses after the point of collapse initiation because after the exterior walls began buckling and the top of the buildings began tilting and the buckling spread to the core and remaining perimeter columns allowing the building top to begin falling, the chaotic impacts of heavy floors and walls colliding could not possibly have been accurately predicted by even the most powerful computers. NIST only examined the collapses to the point where progressive collapse would have been inevitable and this took intense computer work.

Those WTC Tower buildings were built with long span, bar joist floor trusses which can collapse into catenaries (cables in suspension) from the expansion effects of heat on the steel truss components. Steel expands immediately when heated. NIST found that the differential expansion effects between the composite steel and concrete in the floors causes separation of the concrete and steel trusses and buckling of the diagonal struts in the trusses. This catenary effect starts at low temperatures of 400 C to 500 C before the steel itself even begins to weaken. This collapse of the trusses into catenaries over several floors along with the additional ‘thermal bowing’ effect in some of the trusses, caused ‘pull-in’ forces on the exterior wall columns. Thermal bowing is caused by the bottom chords of the trusses being heated and expanding faster than the top. This allows the top chord to go into suspension exerting immediate pull-in forces on the exterior walls. Photos taken by the Police helicopters showed the exterior column walls in the Towers to be bowing inward, on the long span sides of both buildings well before the buildings started to collapse.

Added to the thermal weakness of the ‘long span’ trusses present Tower’s design was the absence of diagonal bracing in the core, the weak column splices in both the perimeter and core columns, one bolt connections of the truss to core columns, missing bolts in the exterior column splices, large open areas allowing extensive fire growth and large areas of the buildings to be affected by heat, weak plaster board enclosures for stairways and elevator shafts, etc., etc.

Building 7 had all the same deficiencies present in the Towers except that the bar joist, trusses were replaced with long span, I beams. There were large growing fires on several floors as well as damage from the exterior columns of Tower 1 which pealed away during its collapse and hit the southwest corner and the middle of the south side of building 7, gouging out large sections. In addition to this damage, there were problems with water supply and the Fire Department decided not to fight these fires and ordered every one out of the building and out of the collapse zone (which was a large area including buildings around building 7) as is the procedure when discontinuing interior firefighting operations at an uncontrolled fire. The anticipation of collapse was a brilliant conclusion and no lives were lost when the 47 story building collapsed about an hour and a half after the evacuation order was given. The BBC somehow misheard the orders to evacuate the collapse zone and reported the building had already collapsed well before it actually did.

If you want to know how and why the WTC buildings collapsed read my book “Fire in the Skyscraper”

Arthur Scheuerman,
Retired Battalion Chief, FDNY

Abogada de la Diabla / October 21st, 2007, 5:47 pm / #4

I saw that Bill Maher show on HBO Friday night and I couldn’t believe it. Then I watched the entire show again because the whole ordeal was so ridiculously odd and rare. Thank you for an informative decimation of these nutcases’ arguments. Doesn’t Bill rock? Also, the Garry Kasparov interview on that same show kicked ass!

Engineer-Poet / October 22nd, 2007, 10:02 pm / #5

The other reason that the conspiracy theory gets traction is because lots of people don’t want to believe that 1.5 billion Muslims would wish us subjugated or dead, and don’t particularly care which.  To the PC/multicultural mindset, they’re (mostly) brown-skinned people and must be victims, not evildoers.

The Gay Black Jew / October 23rd, 2007, 7:13 pm / #6

I think 9/11 is related to 7-11. I’m not sure yet how, but I’m working on it. Don’t buy anything from 7-11! Just kidding.

Jayman / October 25th, 2007, 9:26 am / #7

This is propaganda. Learn for your self people. LOOK IT UP.
The temperature of burning jet fuel. Don’t believe everything you read explore at the very least a few options.

And you completely forget WTC 7 in which NO plane hit but fell in the exact controlled manner!? What am i to believe the building fell on its own?

Mike / October 25th, 2007, 11:54 am / #8

In my opinion, you are still thinking too much about ‘countries’ and ‘us against them’. Many Americans may think that way, but that is exactly how the ‘borderless’ banking and multi-national corporations would like it. There is a possibility that ‘terrorism’ is a complex play which works to the advantage of certain groups who are not loyal to any country, but only loyal to money and power. By keeping the ‘hoards’ frightened and polarized, a multi-national group is more able to profit from and control them. Wars are BIG business – an excellent way to skim huge profits from a country. If you are still caught in the ‘us and them’ mentality, you are a pawn in ‘their’ game and will miss the ‘larger picture’ and thus, miss the escape route entirely.

BlackSun / October 26th, 2007, 8:48 am / #9

@Engineer-Poet,

Good point. Plays right into the idea that it wasn’t a religious attack, but rather retaliation for western exploitation. I hear that a lot.

@Jayman,

Put your tin-foil hat on and go back home. Why don’t you read the above comments from a fireman who actually knows what he is talking about?

@Mike,

Yours sounds startlingly close to the “International Capitalist Communist Conspiracy” my parents used to talk about. Yes, wars are big business. But that doesn’t prove the case.

Read my discussion of conspiracies here.

certain groups who are not loyal to any country, but only loyal to money and power.

Everyone is loyal to money and power. How else should they be? If you say you despise money and power, it means one thing: You don’t have either.

Jayman / October 27th, 2007, 8:51 am / #10

Ok, explain the diagonal cuts found in the main support beams, the same means used to weaken them for a controlled demolition.

BlackSun / October 27th, 2007, 10:28 am / #11

explain the diagonal cuts found in the main support beams, the same means used to weaken them for a controlled demolition.

Jayman,

Here’s the definitive report. If you want to make these kinds of claims, back them up with some evidence. And since it’s an extraordinary claim, it better be pretty goddamn extraordinary evidence. At least as comprehensive as the official reports, and backed by engineers with equal or better credentials.

Here’s another question. If such “cuts” existed, which is a highly suspect claim in the first place, who made them and why? And why haven’t the insurance companies, who are paying out hundreds of millions, gone after them in court? Why building 7 which wasn’t even part of the original attack?

See, in the conspiracist’s world, sketchy, tenuous, or just plain false details get magnified beyond all proportion, and giant real questions like the above are completely ignored. Because, of course, the insurance companies and the building owners are in on the conspiracy. Yeah, right.

How do you walk down the street or drive your car with such paranoia?

Jayman / October 27th, 2007, 2:04 pm / #12

First of all let me state that I am not anti-anything. I am just looking at the big picture and asking questions. Here is the link to the movie in which i got the diagonal cut reference . I understand part of the north building hit wtc7, but it still fell in a controlled manner. Go look up some building fire videos and tell me how many buildings drop like that.

http://video.stumbleupon.com/#p=1udhc6dsma

There are some of the Rockefeller quotes that first got me interested in real world history here.

http://www.fdrs.org/rockefeller_quotes.html

My whole problem is “the end justify the means” does not cut it for me. Maybe the people in power see it as a good thing, but there way of bullying people has been used for ages and will fail again.
Also your name calling shows something about your character, thats all ill say on that. I question everything, its in my nature. For questioning this i have been told,
“Put your tin-foil hat,”
Labeled,
“See, in the conspiracist’s world”
Ridiculed,
“How do you walk down the street or drive your car with such paranoia?”
Everytime i question somthing and get this kind of response it just makes me look deeper. Thank you.

BlackSun / October 27th, 2007, 2:32 pm / #13

Jayman,

Also your name calling shows something about your character, thats all ill say on that. I question everything, its in my nature.

So do I. Then I look for evidence. If I don’t find any, I don’t make things up. You accuse me of name-calling, but you are essentially calling the engineers liars, and everyone who doesn’t agree with you naive. That’s the trouble with conspiracy theories. You tell yourself you’re just inquisitive, but it goes far beyond that. You make up evidence where there is none, and you rely on the inability to prove a negative for an awful lot of your thinking. And you don’t really evaluate evidence properly when you do get it. After a while it gets really tiring. Yours is not a neutral or scientific position. It is by definition condemnatory and insulting of rationality. As Bill Clinton just said a couple of days ago. How dare you?!

Engineer-Poet / October 27th, 2007, 6:58 pm / #14

WTC 7 was heavily damaged by falling debris from collapses of the twin towers, and had uncontrolled fires.  The gasoline tanker fire in California recently proved beyond a doubt that open flame is more than sufficient to soften steel to the point of collapse; anyone whose conspiracy theory demands that this fact be denied is, to put it bluntly, a moron.

Lt. Steve / July 21st, 2008, 12:35 pm / #15

I love the use of polls to somehow legitimize the bizarre. On TV documentaries, they will often lead-in to a commercial with “55% of the American people believe that the JFK assassination was a conspiracy, etc.” I could show you a poll that says “45% of Americans believe that Santa comes down their chimney on the night of December 24th.” Just because 33% of the American people believe that 9/11 was a vast conspiracy make it true? Of course not. The media is just as much to blame for perpetuating this nonsense than the conspiracy theorists themselves.

I investigate air crashes for the Air Force. I have seen crashes similar to the Pentagon where there is virtually nothing left of the aircraft. I have “gotten into it” with the conspiracy theorists before, and because you challenge their delusions they begin to doubt your credentials and call you a liar.

Give it up, folks. These conspiracy folks will let NOTHING sway their beliefs. Let them go.

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