It’s hard to express how certain I was that 9/11 was an inside job perpetrated the Bush administration. Let’s put it this way: I was just as convinced of that as I was of the divinity of Jesus. And I quit believing both for the same reason: a lack of evidence.
There’s no doubt that the amount of corruption in the U.S. government is astounding. The question is whether the U.S. government is competent enough to orchestrate the most elaborate conspiracy in the history of the world and keep it a secret for 13 years and counting. That seems unlikely.
What about all the evidence? Well, there isn’t actually any evidence, but there are a lot of questions. How could jet fuel melt steel? Why did building 7 collapse? What about the people who heard explosions? How did United 93 just disappear into the ground? And why would a large plane make such a small hole in the pentagon? There are many more questions, but these are some of the most common ones.
The problem here is that it’s not enough to have a lot of questions. What if I told you bigfoot was in my backyard last night? You would probably ask for evidence, and I could say, “What about the fact that my gate is messed up? What about all the scratches on my fence? What about that patch of brown fur I found on the back porch?” Interesting questions, but maybe they have better explanations than, “It was bigfoot!” You can’t just connect the dots and draw whatever conclusion you want. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. If there isn’t any extraordinary evidence, you have to apply Occam’s razor (the simplest explanation is the most likely). In this case it was a bear, not bigfoot.
Back to 9/11. In the past I actually avoided articles and videos that claimed to debunk 9/11 conspiracy theories. But why? What was I afraid of? If I was so certain it was an inside job, then why not look at the other side of the issue? One day I decided I wanted to be able to say, “Yes, I’ve spent just as much time looking at both sides of the issue and I still think it was an inside job.” So I got on Youtube and searched, “9/11 conspiracies debunked.” I found a lot of stuff.
Here is one of the most interesting debates I found. It’s the creators of the documentary, Loose Change (which I considered proof that 9/11 was an inside job) versus editors of Popular Mechanics magazine which did a special report debunking 9/11 conspiracies. This debate is interesting because for every question the Loose Change guys have, the Popular Mechanics guys offer a reasonable explanation. When this happens, Jason Bermas (the writer of Loose Change) often gets angry, accuses them of lying, and jumps to the next question. Below is part 1:
While watching this, I felt a lot like a kid who just learned how the disappearing rabbit trick works. Magic tricks often seem impossible, even to adults. But when you learn how they’re done, the explanation seems so obvious you can’t believe you didn’t realize it before. It’s the same when you hear logical explanations for many of these questions about 9/11 (unless you’ve made a commitment to the 9/11 conspiracy, but I’ll talk about that in another post).
Here are a few other videos I recommend.
- 9/11: Science and Conspiracy
- Debunking 9/11 Conspiracy Theorists
- Top 5 9/11 Conspiracy Theories Debunked
Earlier in this post I asked a few questions about 9/11. Below are my answers. Please keep in mind that this post is not meant to be a thorough debunking of 9/11 conspiracy theories (although I will certainly write more about them in the future). I just want to make the point that when you stop assuming 9/11 was an inside job and look at it objectively, there are reasonable explanations for every question a “truther” might ask.
How could jet fuel melt steel?
No one said it did. Yes, it’s true that steel doesn’t melt until it reaches 2750°F and the fires were burning at only 1800°F. However, steel loses as much as 50% of its strength at 1100°F. Because of this, the steel floor trusses sagged and pulled the perimeter columns inward. Eventually they snapped and the upper floors came crashing down. All of this is explained in this video.
Besides, what’s the alternative explanation? That a demolition team spent months tearing up walls and planting charges in the middle of the night and not a single janitor or security guard noticed something amiss? (Remember Occam’s razor.)
Why did building 7 collapse?
There’s a popular clip that shows building 7 falling down like a controlled demolition. It’s a very useful piece of propaganda for truthers. It’s unfortunate that more people haven’t seen the full, unedited video in which you can see the penthouse on top of the building collapsing first (also notice that you don’t hear an explosion). That is not what you would expect if it were a controlled demolition.
According to dozens of firefighters and witnesses, the building looked completely different on the other side. Debris from the two towers crushed parts of WTC 7 all the way up to the 40th floor, and half the building was ablaze. Even then it didn’t collapse. Firefighters might have saved this building, but water lines broke so the fire burned uncontrolled for 7 hours. Because of concern that the building might collapse, firefighters pulled out. An hour and a half later, it fell. The NIST Report explains in detail how this happened.
What about the people who heard explosions?
Remember the last time you heard a garbage truck set down a dumpster so loudly it sounded like an explosion in the distance? Imagine what kind of noises you would hear if sections of floors were cracking and pieces of furniture were sliding off of them and falling to the ground several stories below. It was a very noisy day near ground zero, so lots of people who had never been in such a situation likely misinterpreted what they were hearing.
How did United 93 just disappear into the ground?
It didn’t. 95% of the plane was recovered and the remains of 44 people were positively identified. You can find sources for all this listed on Wikipedia. I guess you could argue that the newspapers that made these reports were “in on it,” but eventually you have to start asking, “Who wasn’t in on it?” And if United 93 didn’t crash in Pennsylvania, what happened to it?
Why would a large plane make such a small hole in the Pentagon?
Again, it didn’t. The picture they show in Loose Change is from inside the Pentagon, the “exit hole.” That hole is much smaller because only the front end of the plane got that far. There is video evidence of a plane hitting the pentagon and over 100 witnesses who saw a plane, not a missile. Why the hell would they use a missile, anyway? Why wouldn’t they just crash a plane into the Pentagon like they did the World Trade Center? And as with United 93, what the hell happened to the plane if it didn’t hit the Pentagon? It doesn’t make any sense.
As I discovered these things, I started to feel like I’d been duped. Conspiracy theorists will do anything to force the evidence to fit their beliefs. Things like ignoring contrary evidence, making things up, and taking quotes out of context. Here’s a good example. This quote is often used by truthers to suggest that something other than a 757 hit the Pentagon:
“The speed, the maneuverability, the way that he turned, we all thought in the radar room, all of us experienced air traffic controllers, that that was a military plane.” – Danielle O’Brien
But they ignore the very next thing he said:
“You don’t fly a 757 in that manner. It’s unsafe.”
None of this changes the fact that the Bush administration and others took advantage of the situation to get support for a war in Iraq (which had nothing to do with 9/11). As Rahm Emanuel said, “Never let a crisis go to waste.” That doesn’t mean they planned and executed the biggest conspiracy in history and managed to keep it covered up despite the fact that hundreds of people would have been involved.
So why are so many people convinced it was an inside job? I think part of the problem is that truthers, ironically, aren’t actually interested in the truth. If they were, they would eagerly examine both sides of the issue. The problem is that believing 9/11 was an inside job is part of a truther’s identity. It’s who they are. They like the idea that they know what’s really going on, that the government didn’t fool them, that they’re somehow smarter than most of the population. And when some of them do express doubts, their truther friends attack them for it (I was attacked pretty harshly on the Internet when I started asking questions).
If there is ever convincing evidence that 9/11 was an inside job, I will want to see it and share it with as many people as possible. But that hasn’t happened yet. And until it does, the default position is to not believe. The simplest explanation (that government bureaucrats overlooked an attack being planned by Muslim extremists) is the most likely explanation.