9/11 has generated the mother of all conspiracy theories
By Michael Shermer
Image: BRAD HINES
Noted French left-wing activist Thierry Meyssan's 9/11 conspiracy book,
became a best-seller in 2002.
But I never imagined such an "appalling
deception" would ever find a voice in America. At a recent public
lecture I was buttonholed by a Michael Moore–wannabe filmmaker who
breathlessly explained that 9/11 was orchestrated by Bush, Cheney,
Rumsfeld and the Central Intelligence Agency as part of their plan for
global domination and a New World Order. That goal was to be financed
by G.O.D. (Gold, Oil, Drugs) and launched by a Pearl Harbor–like attack
on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, thereby providing the
justification for war. The evidence was there in the details, he
explained, handing me a faux dollar bill (with "9-11" replacing the
"1," a picture of Bush supplanting that of Washington) chockablock with
Shermer starts by trotting out Thierry Meyssan,
original publicist for the pentagon no-plane theory,
a hoax probably invented as a distraction.
The Pentagon No-Plane Hoax.
The bill Shermer is referring to without naming is the
In fact, if you type "World Trade Center" and "conspiracy" into
Google, you'll get more than 250,000 hits.
From these sites, you will
discover that some people think the Pentagon was hit by a missile;
that U.S. Air Force jets were ordered to "stand down" and not intercept
Flights 11 and 175, the ones that struck the twin towers; that the
towers themselves were razed by demolition explosives timed to go off
soon after the impact of the planes; that a mysterious white jet shot
down Flight 93 over Pennsylvania; and that New York Jews were ordered
to stay home that day (Zionists and other pro-Israeli factions, of
course, were involved).
Books also abound, including
Inside Job, by Jim Marrs;
The New Pearl Harbor, by David Ray Griffin; and
9/11: The Great Illusion, by George Humphrey.
The single best debunking of this conspiratorial codswallop is
in the March issue of Popular Mechanics,
which provides an exhaustive point-by-point analysis of the
most prevalent claims.
This passage illustrates a common disinformation technique
I call bracketing, wherein valid points are surrounded
by bogus claims in order to contextualize the former
This is also true of the article as a whole.
Shermer may not be very original, but he undersands the basic
rules of writing disinformation.
No melted steel, no collapsed towers.
For example, according to www.911research.wtc7.net, steel melts at a
temperature of 2,777 degrees Fahrenheit, but jet fuel burns at only
1,517 degrees F. No melted steel, no collapsed towers.
"The planes did not bring those towers down; bombs did,"
Wrong. In an article in the
Journal of the Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society
and in subsequent interviews, Thomas Eagar, an engineering professor at
the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, explains why: steel loses 50
percent of its strength at 1,200 degrees F; 90,000 liters of jet fuel
ignited other combustible materials such as rugs, curtains, furniture
and paper, which continued burning after the jet fuel was exhausted,
raising temperatures above 1,400 degrees F and spreading the inferno
throughout each building.
Temperature differentials of hundreds of
degrees across single steel horizontal trusses caused them to
sag--straining and then breaking the angle clips that held the beams to
the vertical columns. Once one truss failed, others followed. When one
floor collapsed onto the next floor below, that floor subsequently gave
way, creating a pancaking effect that triggered each 500,000-ton
structure to crumble. Conspiricists argue that the buildings should
have fallen over on their sides, but with 95 percent of each building
consisting of air, they could only have collapsed straight down.
Shermer repeats the figure of 90,000 liters from the article without
bothering to check it against the official reports:
the FEMA report put the fuel on each jet at 37,000 liters.
Here Shermer parrots Professor Eagar's assertion that the Towers
could only have collapse straight down, flying in the face of the
scientific method, the basis of which is repeated experiment and observation.
There is not a single experiment which demonstrates that top-down total
progressive collapse -- the alleged means by which the Towers collapsed
straight down -- is even possible, let alone the only possiblity.
All the 9/11 conspiracy claims are this easily refuted. On the
Pentagon "missile strike," for example, I queried the would-be
filmmaker about what happened to Flight 77, which disappeared at the
same time. "The plane was destroyed, and the passengers were murdered
by Bush operatives," he solemnly revealed.
"Do you mean to tell me that not one
of the thousands of conspirators needed to pull all this off," I retorted,
"is a whistle-blower who would go on TV or write a tell-all book?"
My rejoinder was met with the same grim response I get from
UFOlogists when I ask them for concrete evidence: Men in Black silence
witnesses, and dead men tell no tales.
This fallacious claim that thousands were required to execute
the attack is debunked