articles archive articles by C. Thurston fair use notice

The Semantics of Deception

by C. Thurston

I would like to raise and attempt to bring into focus a semantics issue that I believe may be compromising the vision of those who are still unable to see what happened to the WTC Towers. I'm trying to understand why anyone would ever say that the Towers "collapsed", since there's absolutely no evidence for this that I can see.

N. J. Burkett, an ABC News correspondent, was standing more than a block away from the WTC Towers on 9/11 when the South Tower destruction begins. He interrupts his live TV commentary by shouting as everyone runs for cover: "...A HUGE EXPLOSION NOW -- RAINING DEBRIS ON ALL OF US! WE'D BETTER GET OUT OF THE WAY!" By now, most of us have probably seen compilations of news clips from early in the day on 9/11 with numerous commentators and eyewitnesses all talking about the sights and sounds of explosions going off in the buildings.

After the first few hours of spontaneous reporting had passed, all talk of explosives seemed to mysteriously vanish from mainstream media and instead we were told over and over again about how the Towers had "collapsed". The NOVA and Discovery Channel specials from PBS that soon appeared on America's TV sets continued this campaign of emphasizing that the Towers had "collapsed". This then became not only the starting premise for the various official investigations, but it also became common usage among ordinary folks and many 9/11 researchers for describing the destruction of the Towers.

There's a problem with this, however. According to Merriam-Webster, "collapse" means "to cave or fall in or give way <the bridge collapsed>". The leading hypothesis coming from bona fide scientific analysis is that the Towers DIDN'T cave in or give way, they were systematically and progressively EXPLODED from the top down, starting from the impact zone in each Tower.

If one compares the meaning of the words "collapse" and "explosion" outside of the confusing context of the destruction of the Towers, it becomes clear that they are, in fact, opposites. A collapse "pulls things down", whereas an explosion "blows things up". A true collapse, by its nature, once triggered, is a self-fulfilling event that needs only the help of gravity to reach its completion.

From looking at the videos and photographs we can see plenty of falling debris, but almost all of it is shattered and pulverized, and it only begins to fall straight down AFTER it has been propelled out beyond the original perimeter of the structure. As the wave of destruction moves down each Tower, it encounters stronger and heavier structural materials (both the perimeter columns and the core columns were much heavier in the lower part of the building) and the power of the explosives very likely also increased progressively in order to guarantee total destruction.

The falling debris from above blankets over the continuing explosions to some extent, but the building structure below the advancing wave is intact. I don't see any part of the structure collapsing prior to the arrival of the wave of explosive destruction, and there's nothing left to collapse afterwards. I also don't see any part of the building "imploding" or folding in--I only see an ever-expanding cloud of dust and debris.

When the air clears, allowing a look at ground zero, there are no elevated heaps of collapsed structure where the buildings once stood, we find only smoking ruins with debris scattered for blocks in all directions.

There are those who want us to imagine that the Towers "collapsed" because that assumption is critical to their story. But, as we know, it is IMPOSSIBLE for an intact steel frame structure to simply collapse on its own, with or without fire, or even from the impact of a similarly constructed portion of the same building. If "pounded on" from above, either one of these well-designed Towers would have behaved more like a huge nail than a house of cards. It might bend or distort, but it wouldn't just fall apart.

Anyone who's ever played with an Erector Set knows intuitively that as long as the structural members remain well-connected, a framework may become twisted and distorted if you throw it to the floor, but it will never just collapse into pieces under any scenario involving self-related and self-proportional forces. Even if a giant came along and stomped on one of the Towers, the continuous vertical strength of the specially fabricated multi-story core columns, with their welded connections and dense cross-bracing, would cause the building to split out over a multi-floor region, much like pushing down on a bundle of archery bows. The vertical spacing of the office floors did not correlate to periodic points of weakness in the column assemblies.

All of the official theories put forward by NIST have been based on the a priori assumption that the Towers DID collapse, so they are then left with only the task of trying to explain what got it started. I've been amazed that they have been able to get away with such an egregious example of "cart-before-the-horse" analysis. Before considering hypotheses for "collapse initiation", they first have to prove that the Towers DID indeed "collapse"! And this would clearly be impossible given the evidence that they have so far been able to ignore based on the limited scope of their self-defined "investigation".

Unfortunately, whenever anyone talks about how or why the Towers "collapsed", they are unwittingly giving credence to this unproven assumption, which NIST has used as the basis for their highly unscientific disregard for proper investigative sequence. In other words, NIST should FIRST be evaluating the collapse hypothesis itself, and not be jumping ahead to collapse initiation scenarios. They would no doubt prefer that we all join them in their assumption that the Towers "collapsed", but this is, in fact, the crux of the matter and the REAL question. I therefore believe that we should be very careful not to allow our choice of language to obscure this point.

By questioning whether OR NOT a collapse (properly speaking) even occurred, we can significantly reframe this important debate and finally begin to cultivate a competing mental image that better describes what actually happened. The sooner we openly and aggressively challenge the imaginary assumption that is bundled with this use of language, the sooner we can break its hold on the minds of those who are convinced that they saw something that never actually happened.

(Note: the word "destruction", or "destroyed", substitutes well for "collapse" in most cases, as in: "we're seeking an explanation for the destruction of the Towers". Or, instead of asking "Why indeed did the Towers completely collapse?" we could be asking "How indeed were the Towers completely destroyed?")