Sunday, July 17, 2011

Is "9/11 Truth" based upon a false theory?

Is “9/11 Truth” based upon a false theory?

Jim Fetzer (with T. Mark Hightower)

Given my background in the history and the philosophy of science and as a professional scholar, I founded Scholars for 9/11 Truth for the purpose of promoting collaborative research on the events of 9/11 by creating a web site, issuing press releases, archiving old research and supporting new research, sponsoring conferences, announcing public presentations, and making efforts to reach out to the public with the results of our investigations. The most intense conflicts in relation to the 9/11 Truth movement, however, turn out to come from within and between research groups, which have all too often found themselves at odds and severely attacked and even denounced one another.

Based upon my experience, I can report with confidence that the three most controversial issues within the 9/11 Truth movement are these:

(1) the Pentagon attack, especially, whether a Boeing 757 hit the Pentagon, which I have addressed in “What didn’t happen at the Pentagon” and in “Inside Job: Seven Questions about 9/11”;

(2) the planes in New York, especially, whether video fakery was used there, which I have addressed in “New Proof of Video Fakery on 9/11” and “Inside Job: More Proof of 9/11 Duplicity”; and,

(3) the demolition of the Twin Towers, especially, how it was done, the dominant theory being that they were destroyed using nanothermite as the principal mechanism, which I address here.

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These are questions that can be investigated using scientific reasoning to evaluate alternative hypotheses. The benefits from this appear to be considerable, since, if my efforts are successful, (a) we will have a better understanding of what happened, (b) there will be fewer, less intense conflicts between us, and (c) we will become more cohesive and effective in promoting our objectives and goals. A “9/11 Truth” movement, after all, has to be based on truth, where science is our most reliable method for distinguishing between what is true and what is false, where I can apply my background and the 35 years I spent offering courses in logic, critical thinking and scientific reasoning.

The evidence presented in those studies about (1) the Pentagon attack and (2) the planes in New York and (3) the demolition of the Twin Towers here not only falsifies the official account of 9/11 but also implicates the Department of Defense in the case of (1) and the national media in the case of (2) with its deceit and deception in perpetrating fraud on the American people. While I have no doubt that the Mossad was involved, it could not have been responsible for the “stand down” of the US Air Force on 9/11 nor for the failure of the Pentagon to take measures to protect itself from an aircraft, whose approach was known to Dick Cheney and to the pilot of a C-130, who was circling the building at the time. The Mossad is far more likely to have been deeply involved in (3) the destruction of the Twin Towers.

The Nanothermite Theory

While there are many points of agreement within the 9/11 Truth community, which include that the North Tower was hit first but “collapsed” second’; that the fires burned neither long enough nor hot enough for the steel to have weakened, much less melted; that collapse scenarios were not even physically possible; and that NIST has never been able to justify a “point of initiation”, much less present a serious collapse simulation, there has been ongoing controversy over how it was done, where the prevalent theory is that nanothermite was the principal ingredient. If any single event could be said to have inspired the 9/11 Truth community, it was the publication of an article in the Bentham Open Science journal:

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Bolstered in their belief by this article by Niels Harrit, Jeffrey Farrer, Steven Jones, Kevin Ryan, and others, “Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe”, in The Open Chemical Physics Journal 2 (2009), pp. 7-31, the theory has become dominant in 9/11 research. And this has remained the case even though the Editor-in-Chief of the journal, Marie-Paule Pileni, who specializes in nano-materials research at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in France, resigned her position in protest of its publication, which she regarded as very inappropriate.

The article itself, which was based upon studies of dust that was collected from the immediate vicinity of “Ground Zero”, maintains that nanothermite residue was found in the dust and suggests that this finding holds the key to understanding the means by which the Twin Towers were blown apart. It was done using “explosive nanothermite”. The article asserts, for example,

"The feature of 'impulse management' may be significant. It is possible that formulations may be chosen to have just sufficient percussive effect to achieve the desired fragmentation while minimizing the noise level" (page 26);

And concludes with the following (somewhat ambiguous) declaration:

“Based on these observations, we conclude that the red layer of the red/gray chips we have discovered in the WTC dust is active, unreacted thermitic material, incorporating nanotechnology, and is a highly energetic pyrotechnic or explosive material” (page 31);

. . . which has been widely construed to have established scientifically that nanothermite was found in the dust, that nanothermite is explosive, and that nanothermite was the crucial ingredient in bringing about the conversion of the Twin Towers into a few large pieces and millions of cubic yards of very fine dust, which appears to have been critical for the preservation of the bathtub, the shattering of which would have allowed Hudson River water to flood beneath Lower Manhattan, the subway and the PATH train tunnels, causing monumental damage to the most valuable real estate in the world, which the conspirators, it appears, wanted to preclude by employing a novel mode of demolition.

Enthusiastic Endorsements

The widespread acceptance of nanothermite as the crucial component of the demolition of the Twin Towers has become a matter of common knowledge within the 9/11 Truth community. But here are samples of the extent to which it has become embedded in reasoning about 9/11. On April 5, 2009, for example, Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth published “Exotic High Tech Explosives Positively Identified in World Trade Center Dust”, presenting its ringing endorsement of its findings:

"A ground-breaking scientific paper confirmed this week that red-gray flakes found throughout multiple samples of WTC dust are actually unexploded fragments of nanothermite, an exotic high-tech explosive.

"The samples were taken from far-separated locations in Manhattan, some as early as 10 minutes after the second tower (WTC 1) collapsed, ruling out any possible contamination from cleanup operations. . . .

"Ordinary thermite burns quickly and can melt through steel, but it is not explosive. Nanothermite, however, can be formulated as a high explosive. It is stable when wet and can be applied like paint."

During an interview in RUSSIA TODAY (July 2009), Neils Harrit, the paper’s first author, offers observations that are rather more qualified by suggesting that, while thermite was “used for melting the steel beams”, he is certain that conventional explosives were also used:

“There is very solid evidence for that some thermite has been used for melting the steel beams. We should not, I do not know, we do not know if the thermite that we have found is the same thermite which has been used for melting the beams. It's very very possible that different varieties was used and I personally am certain that conventional explosives were used too in abundance.” When asked what he meant by the phrase,“in abundance,” he said “tons, hundred tons, many many many tons.”

In his admirable “Left-Leaning Despisers of the 9/11 Truth Movement: Do You Really Believe in Miracles?”, GLOBAL RESEARCH (6 July 2010), David Ray Griffin, the dean of 9/11 research, expressed his emphatic support for nanothermite as a powerful explosive capable of exerting enormous force and ejecting large sections of steel hundreds of feet:

"NIST thereby admitted that debris had been thrown out horizontally from the North Tower at least 350 feet.84 NIST’s report also stated:

“When WTC 1 collapsed at 10:28:22 AM, . . . some fragments [of debris] were forcibly ejected and traveled distances up to hundreds of meters. Pieces of WTC 1 hit WTC 7, severing six columns on Floors 7 through 17 on the south face and one column on the west face near the southwest corner. The debris also caused structural damage between Floor 44 and the roof.85

"Debris that caused such extensive damage, including the severing of seven steel columns, had to be quite heavy. NIST seemed to be granting, therefore, that sections of steel columns had been hurled at least 650 feet (because “hundreds of meters” would mean at least 200 meters, which would be about 650 feet). Enormous force would be needed to eject large sections of steel that far out.

"What could have produced this force? According to NIST, as we saw earlier, there were only three causal factors in the collapse of the Twin Towers: the airplane impacts, the fires, and gravitational attraction. The airplane impacts had occurred 56 minutes (South Tower) and 102 minutes (North Tower) earlier, and gravitational attraction pulls things straight downward. Fire could, to be sure, produce horizontal ejections by causing jet fuel to explode, but the jet fuel had, NIST pointed out, burned up within “a few minutes.”86 Therefore, although NIST admitted that these horizontal ejections occurred, it suggested no energy source to explain them.

"High explosives, such as RDX or nanothermite, could explain these horizontal ejections. According to NIST, however, explosives did not contribute to the destruction of the Twin Towers. Those who accept NIST’s account must, therefore, regard these horizontal ejections as constituting yet another miracle."

And there can be scant room for doubt that Griffin’s characterization has become the dominant view within the 9/11 Truth community, where it has assumed a standing akin to that of a religious dogma, where those who challenge that belief have been subject to severe reactions from within the community, including forms of banishment and blackballing, very much on the order of heretics in theological disputes of the past, many of whom were even burned at the stake.

The Split in Scholars

And I have been among them. When I founded Scholars for 9/11 Truth, I invited Steven Jones, a physicist from BYU, to serve as my co-chair, on the advice of David Ray Griffin, whom I invited first. I would later learn from David that, at that time, he had no confidence that a society could make a difference, which was an opinion he would later retract. In the months between founding the society in December of 2005 and the American Scholars Conference in Los Angeles in June of 2006, I had heard a lot about thermite, thermate, and nanothermite, but was skeptical that it could perform the feats of blowing massive assemblies of steel hundreds of yards and converting two 500,000 ton buildings into millions of cubic yards of very fine dust. On Saturday of the conference, I approached Steve in the lobby and asked him if he was confident that nanothermite could bring about these effects—and was not entirely persuaded when he assured me that, “Yes, it could!”

By the end of the year, I had become convinced that it was necessary to broaden the range of hypotheses that were under consideration as candidates to explain the destruction of the Twin Towers. None of us had any problems with WTC-7, which exhibited all the characteristics of a classic controlled demolition: the explosion began at the base, ran up the side of the building with a kink in the roof, where all the floors fell at the same time into the buildings foundation at the approximate rate of free fall and a stack of debris about 12% of its original height remained. The Twin Towers were different, where all of their floors remained stationary until they were “blown to kingdom come” (in the memorable phrase of Morgan Reynolds), where they were destroyed at the approximate rate of free fall, too, but where, as Fr. Frank Morales from St. Mark’s Episcopal Church observed during two interviews on a radio program I co-hosted with Kevin Barrett, “The Dynamic Duo”, both buildings, unlike WTC-7, were destroyed below ground level!

The differences between us were exacerbated when I interviewed Dr. Judy Wood, a former professor of mechanical engineering, who was promoting the alternative theory that directed energy weapons might have been used to destroy the buildings rather than thermite in any of its guises, which took place on November 11, 2006. What I liked the most about Judy’s work was that it offered a fresh perspective about how it could have been done, where she asked me to guess where a directed energy device could have been located and, when I offered WTC-7 as a guess, she corrected me and said, “In space!” I would bet that this interview caused more division in the 9/11 Truth community than any other event before or after. Judy began being attacked for advocating “space beams” and “death rays”, while I was castigated for supporting her. That I was SUPPORTING RESEARCH on her theory as opposed to ENDORSING IT was a subtlety that was lost on the crowd, where it has become part of the presumptive history of the 9/11 movement.

Critique of Steven Jones

Perhaps my strongest critique of Steve’s work occurred by accident. On May 17, 2007, my scheduled guest on "The Dynamic Duo", Don Paul, was a no-show and I had to wing it for two hours. So for the first part of the show, I talked about my collaborative research on the death of Sen. Paul Wellstone and on the assassination of JFK. During the second part, however, I focused my attention on a new paper he had just published, “Why indeed did the World Trade Center buildings completely collapse?” A copy can be found on the Journal of 9/11 Studies 3 (2006), which I suppose is a close facsimile of the paper I discussed, although Steve has sometimes revised his work on-line without formal notice. In my critique, I pointed out that the title was wrong, since the buildings had not “collapsed” and that he was talking about the Twin Towers, but my more serious criticisms concerned his deeply flawed conception of the scientific method and what I regarded as inadequate support for his thermite/thermate/nanothermite theory, “On the Manipulation of the 9/11 Research Community”. Here are a few passages for the flavor:

“Don’t forget that eleven hundred bodies were never recovered. Eleven hundred bodies were never recovered. Those were bodies that were turned into very fine dust. Never recovered. That’s completely inconsistent with a “collapse”. Even involving explosive, you would expect to find body parts, even if they were detached from bodies. And you’d find lots of skulls and torsos and arms and legs, but here we’re talking eleven hundred bodies, no parts of which were recovered. This is stunning stuff. And it certainly implies that something was going on here far beyond the use of any merely conventional explosives.

“But what’s going on in the research community is an attempt to constrain research that would actually have the capacity potentially to explain what's going on. By reaching beyond conventional weaponry in to the range of unconventional weaponry, such as lasers, masers, plasmoids, mini-nukes. I mean, who knows in advance of actually conducting an investigation that theories or hypotheses about the use of lasers or masers or mini-nukes are wrong? You can’t know that without investigation. And I’m going to suggest that a gigantic hoax is being perpetrated on the research community by the claim that [the] scientific method supports this very narrow definition of the use of thermite and thermate . . . .

“. . . where I have now taken a look at the latest paper of the leading proponent of that view, Steven Jones, and it doesn’t add up. I mean it may be impressive to those who are naïve about the nature of science and who are incapable of reading a paper that has the least degree of technical sophistication to it, but I’m going to suggest to you as we go through this paper that what we have here is a rather elaborate “snow job”, where the most important points made are actually concessions that the evidence he has found is merely consistent with the use of thermite or thermate but doesn’t prove it was produced by thermite or thermate, where, provided that there are multiple alternative possible explanations, he has not done the job. And I’m going to claim that he has not done the job because he has a commitment to a conception of scientific method that is hopelessly inadequate. Hopelessly inadequate. And that while he talks a lot about science, he is, alas, not practicing it.”

Jones’ maintains that the scientific method is a process of observation, formulating an hypothesis, performing tests and experiments, and then publishing the results in a peer-reviewed journal. That’s wrong, because science cannot simply begin with observation (since there is too much we could observe) and it cannot proceed by studying one hypothesis at a time. Science is a process of puzzlement (because something doesn’t fit into your background knowledge), speculation (by identifying the alternative hypotheses that might explain the data), adaptation (of hypotheses to data by calculating and comparing their likelihoods), and explanation (by accepting the hypothesis with the highest likelihood when the evidence has “settled down”, in the tentative and fallible fashion of science). His inadequate methodology derives from the failure to grasp that scientific research requires the comparison of alternative hypotheses and cannot focus only on one.

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“Houston, we have a problem!”

The most glaring empirical failure of the then-current version of his paper is that he finally gets around to talking about barium nitrate, and by the time you reach the final page, he has acknowledged that what he is talking about is not actually thermite but what he calls a “thermite analog”, which he does not actually define, and he admits that thermite, which he now calls “TH3”, is an analog of thermite that contains sulfur and barium nitrate and now he talks about thermite “as defined here”. It turns out this barium-nitrate-containing thermite is the military grade thermite that he has been using to demonstrate the effectiveness of thermite, illustrated by the use of a thermite grenade on the top of an engine block. But no barium nitrate has been found in the analysis of the chemical residue in the analysis of the dust by Steven Jones or by the US Geological Survey. So in this version, he has pulled a bait-and-switch. Looking at the current version on-line, however, barium nitrate is mentioned on page 19 but not at the end of his paper, which means that it has been revised since I critiqued it.

I am not the only one to have evaluated that version of his paper in caustic, negative terms, since a complementary critique comes from Stephen Phillips, “A Physicist Critiques Steven Jones’ New Paper” (May 21, 2007), where the present version is clearly not the same as the one he and I were addressing—a reflection of which may be that he actually includes my name in the acknowledgements! So let’s look at the conclusion of the current version and consider what he says there:

“Remarkably, the controlled-demolition hypothesis accounts for all the available data rather easily. The core columns (and corner perimeter columns) on floors damaged by the planes are cut near-simultaneously using radio-signaled explosives/incendiary-cutters. In this scenario, cutter-charges were set every two or three floors during routine “maintenance” of elevator shafts, etc., so that the cutting sequence could be matched in a controlling computer to begin at the level where the plane entered each Tower. Next cutter-charges were detonated from the top downward for the Towers, ejecting beams and material long distances horizontally as observed during the destruction. The “collapses” are thus near-symmetrical, complete, at near-free-fall speeds with accompanying “squibs”. Thermite analogs (whose end product is molten iron) including the explosive form, nano-thermite, may account for the molten metal which then pooled beneath the rubble piles as well as the sulfidation observed in steel from both the WTC 7 and Towers rubble piles (points 1 and 2 above). WTC 7 evidently proceeded in a more conventional fashion for controlled demolition, with collapse-initiating explosions starting on lower floors (rather than at high-floor levels as for the Towers).”

Notice that, like Architects & Engineers and David Ray Griffin, Steve is attributing vast powers to thermite in its “explosive” nanothermite form, including the capacity to eject steel beams and materials long distances horizontally “as observed during the destruction”. He appeals to “thermite analogs” whose end product is molten iron—“including the explosive form, nanothermite”—may account for the molten metal that pooled beneath the rubble piles, where WTC-7, he acknowledges, “evidently proceeded in a more conventional fashion for controlled demolition”, beginning on the lower floors rather than from the top. This is well and good and moves in the right direction. But can even these claims for nanothermite be sustained? It appears that they cannot.

Nanothermite: A Feeble Explosive

I has been my great pleasure over the past twelve months or more to participate in a research group focusing on the properties of thermite in all its original, thermate and nanothemite forms. We were aided and abetted in this process by contributions from Daniel Fairchild, a Vietnam veteran experienced in dealing with explosives, who was my guest on “The Real Deal” on Monday, August 2. 2010, an interview that stimulated our thinking about how explosives work and how they might have been employed on 9/11. While some of his numbers struck us as faulty, Dan’s work motivated T. Mark Hightower, an engineer who has worked in the chemical industry and the space program—including with NASA for 21 years—to undertake a search of the open technical literature on nanothermite to determine its explosive potential in comparison to other explosives.

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What Mark discovered was surprising, especially given the extent to which leading figures of the 9/11 Truth movement have promoted it. The highest degree of explosiveness for iron oxide/aluminum nanothermite—the chemical form claimed to have been involved in WTC destruction—that Mark could find documented in the technical literature has a detonation velocity of only 895 m/s (or meters per second). Since TNT, the universal standard for comparison, has a detonation velocity of 6,900 m/s, the explosive potential of thermite in its most potent form of nanothermite is acutely disappointing. When we divide the velocity of nanothermite by that for TNT (895/6,900), it turns out nanothermite is not even 13% as powerful as TNT. (See "Table of Explosive Velocities" from Wikipedia.)

As Mark has explained in a blog, “Has nanothermite been oversold to the 9/11 Truth community?”, and an interview on “The Real Deal” (July 6, 2011), 895 m/s is obviously too low of a value to account for the explosive effects observed in the catastrophic destructions of the WTC Twin Towers, including turning concrete and other materials into dust or separating and propelling steel members and other materials outward. Comparisons with the detonation velocities of conventional high explosives, such as 8,750 m/s for RDX or 9,100 m/x for HMX (not to mention 8,040 m/s for C-4 and 8,400 m/s for PETN), it is clear that nanothermite is not even in the same ballpark. While thermite in one or another of its guises as a rapid incendiary could have been used to sever or pre-weaken steel members, this low velocity melting process is a totally different mechanism for the cutting of steel than the shock wave method that requires detonation velocities of at least 3,200 m/s for concrete and 6,100 m/s for steel.

With respect to the demolition of the Twin Towers and blowing them to bits, low-explosive nanothermite, which does exist, can be eliminated as an hypothesis because it is ineffective. High-explosive nanothermite as an alternative can be eliminated because it simply does not exist. Mark therefore concludes that the phrase, “explosive nanothermite”, when used to describe the causal mechanism for demolishing the Twin Towers is either seriously misleading under a charitable interpretation and at worst deliberately deceptive under an uncharitable one. Either way, conventional or unconventional explosives would have had to be combined with thermite, even in its nanothermite form. And if such a blend had been employed, the nanothermite would function more as an additive to high explosives rather than as the main ingredient itself.

The Nanothermite Challenge

On May 1, 2011, Hightower published, “The Nanothermite Challenge”, as part of a longer study, “Has nanothermite been oversold to the 9/11 Truth community?". The challenge comes to this:

"Find and document peer-reviewed scientific research [publications] that demonstrate that a gas-generating nanothermite (GGNT) based upon iron (III) oxide (Fe2O3) and aluminum (Al), where the gas-generating chemical added to the nanothermite is not itself a high explosive, can be made to be a high explosive with at least a detonation velocity of 2000 m/s. The author of this paper will donate [to AE911Truth] $100 for every 1000 m/s of detonation velocity that can be documented, the donation not to exceed $1,000."

The deadline date of June 20, 2011 passed with not even one entry to this contest. Interestingly, Kevin Ryan posted an article at 911blogger that very day entitled “The explosive nature of nanothermite". In this article, Ryan admits that they know very little about the role that nanothermite played in 9/11.

“Although we know that nanothermite has been found in the WTC dust, we do not know what purpose it served in the deceptive demolition of the WTC buildings. It could be that the nanothermite was used simply to drive fires in the impact zones and elevator areas – fires which would otherwise have gone out too early or not been present at all – and thereby create the deception that jet fuel-induced fires could wreak the havoc seen. Nanothermite might also have been used to produce the explosions necessary to destroy the structural integrity of the buildings.”

In Ryan's paper he cites (what he claims to be) “ten references to the fact that nanothermites can be made to be explosive.” During my interview with Mark Hightower of July 6, 2011, on “The Real Deal”, however, Mark refuted every one of Ryan's ten references. Let me document just one especially interesting example of those refutations here. Ryan's reference 4 states,

"A high explosive creates a shockwave that always travels at high, supersonic velocity from the point of origin. This paper describes how – 'the reaction of the low density nanothermite composite leads to a fast propagating combustion, generating shock waves with Mach numbers up to 3.'"

All you need to do is go to the title of this paper to see that it is not relevant to the nanothermite hypothesis advanced by Jones, Ryan, Griffin and Harrit, among others, because it is for the wrong chemical form of thermite. The Twin Towers destruction allegedly involved the use of iron oxide/aluminum nanothermite, but in this paper, "Generation of fast propagating combustion and shock waves with copper oxide/aluminum nanothermite composities", Applied Physics Letters (2007), we have copper oxide/aluminum nanothermite. Although not the main thrust of the paper, it gives a qualified reference to iron oxide/aluminum nanothermite research. It says,

"Recently, we reported that higher combustion wave speeds were achieved for the composites of ordered porous Fe2O3 oxidizer and Al nanoparticles (5) as compared with the one containing porous oxidizer with no ordering of the pores and Al nanoparticles."

Unfortunately no velocities are given, so it was necessary to go to the reference (5) cited in this paper to find more data, which Mark has done. The information for the reference (5) paper is as follows: Mehendale, Bhushan , Shende, Rajesh , Subramanian, Senthil , Gangopadhyay, Shubhra , Redner, Paul , Kapoor, Deepak and Nicolich, Steven(2006) 'Nanoenergetic Composite of Mesoporous Iron Oxide and Aluminum Nanoparticles', Journal of Energetic Materials, 24: 4, 341 — 360

On page 357, there is a graph, where the highest velocities (referred to as "burn rates" on the graph) are reported for the specified iron oxide/aluminum nanothermites. Those velocities are all less than 300 m/s, which is even less than the 895 m/s that Mark Hightower has established for iron/oxide aluminum nanothermite. It is safe to say that nothing revealed by Kevin Ryan provides an adequate response to “the nanothermite challenge”.

Replies from Researchers

In retrospect, it should have been obvious that nanothermite could not live up to its capabilities as they have been advanced by Steven Jones, Kevin Ryan, and others, who regard themselves as the custodians and only true practitioners of the scientific method in 9/11 research. Thus, Denis Spitzer et al., “Energetic nano-materials: Opportunities for enhanced performances”, Journal of Physics and Chemistry of Solids (2010), where, given the crucial role of the rapid expansion of gases to perform work by explosives, states, “Gas generating nano-thermites:
Thermites are energetic materials, which do not release gaseous species when they decompose. However, explosives can be blended in thermites to give them blasting properties”, which implies that, unless supplemented with explosives, nanothermites are not explosive.

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In his efforts to inform prominent researchers about his discoveries, Mark wrote to Steven Jones, Richard Gage, and others. Dwain Deets, the former Chief of Research Engineering and Director for Aeronautical Projects at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, wrote to Mark and told him that he had listened to our interview on "The Real Deal" and said: "Excellent interview. A step toward trimming back claims that overshoot the evidence." He also sent a diagram illustrating certain detonation velocities as well as the sonic (speed of sound) velocities in various materials. Thus, for a high explosive to significantly fragment a material, its detonation velocity has to be greater than the speed of sound in that material, which requires a detonation velocity of at least 3,200 m/s to fragment concrete and 6,100 m/s to fragment steel--far beyond 895 m/s for nanothermite.

On July 7, 2011, Hightower received emails from both David Ray Griffin and Richard Gage. Gage wrote back that “it [nanothermite] should not be called a ‘high’ explosive”. Griffin made a similar suggestion and, in reply, Mark observed that calling it simply “an explosive” would convey to most members of the public that it is “a high explosive” or, given it’s invocation by the “hard evidence” crowd, at least, has the ability to disintegrate concrete and even steel. Since that is the impression that has been indelibly implanted in the consciousness of the public, within and without the 9/11 Truth movement, until that claim is corrected, the 9/11 Truth movement will be based upon a provably false theory.

When Griffin wrote back, "We are happy with our formulation, that it can be tailored to work as an incendiary or an explosive. We cannot be responsible for the fact that many people may equate 'explosive' with 'high explosive'", therefore, his answer raised a number of extremely disturbing questions about the ethical implications of allowing these enormously misleading impressions to linger:

(1) Will Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth inform the public that it has misrepresented the potential for “explosive nanothermite”?; and,

(2) If nanothermite only exists as a low explosive, that it cannot “hold the key” to the destruction of the Twin Towers, as has been claimed?; and,

(3) Will A&E admit that nanothermite cannot possibly be the “smoking gun” of 9/11 research, when the hard evidence contradicts that claim?

The 9/11 Truth Dilemma

Once again, as in the case of the Pentagon crash site and the question of “planes/no planes”, serious students of 9/11 are placed in a dilemma. If they are committed to truth, as the name “9/11 Truth” implies, then they have to confront the fact that claims advanced on behalf the nanothermite hypothesis—that the scientific key to understanding the demolition of the Twin Towers is the use of the nano-version of thermite—cannot be sustained. When the detonation velocity of nanothermite is only 895 m/s, while TNT has a detonation velocity of 6,900 m/s, the explosive potential of thermite—even in its most potent form as nanothermite—is more than acutely disappointing. When it turns out nanothermite is not even 13% as powerful as TNT, the very idea that nanothermite should “hold the scientific key to understanding what happened to the Twin Towers" is simply absurd.

But shouldn’t the leaders of a self-proclaimed 9/11 “scientific research” group have sorted this out before they proclaimed that nanothermite was “the key”? As Mark has observed in his study, Steve Jones made a mistake early in his 9/11 research career by classifying nanothermite as an explosive in the same category with RDX, HMX, and others, whose detonation velocities are overwhelmingly greater. Alas, “The 9/11 truth movement has never recovered from from this error, for to this day nearly everyone in the 9/11 movement refers to ‘explosive nanothermite’, as even this clever cover for a fictitious ‘For Dummies’ book [above] illustrates.” And shouldn’t those who were promoting it to the community have discovered their blunder and taken steps to correct the false impression that they were thereby conveying?

My critique of Steve Jones' research, "On the manipulation of the 9/11 Truth Community", in which I observed, for example, that “the most important points [he has] made are actually concessions that the evidence he has found is merely consistent with the use of thermite or thermate but doesn’t prove it was produced by thermite or thermate, where, provided that there are multiple alternative possible explanations, he has not done the job. And I’m going to claim that he has not done the job because he has a commitment to a conception of scientific method that is hopelessly inadequate. . . . And that while he talks a lot about science, he is, alas, not practicing it”, was presented on the air on on May 17, 2007. It was even published on 911blogger, but met with derision and hostility, where the comments were extremely revealing.

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And there were other signs of trouble brewing. The Rock Creek Free Press (May 2009), for example, published a piece about nanothermite, which offered a more reasonable assessment of its explosive capabilities, explaining that even if it has the potential to be a low grade explosive, its use as a high explosive—which might be capable of doing the work required to bring about (at least a major part of) the destruction of the Twin Towers—would require that it be combined with a high explosive. Surely this front-page article, which featured photos of Neils Harrit, Jeffrey Farrer, Kevin Ryan, and Steve Jones, ought to have caught the attention of the leaders of the "hard-evidence" research group.

Even now, after the publication of “Has nanothermite been oversold to the 9/11 Truth community?”, some of its most important advocates, such as Steven Jones, Kevin Ryan, and Neils Harrit, remain its obdurate supporters. There are signs that others may be more appreciative of the significance of these considerations, where recent handouts from Architechts & Engineers for 9/11 Truth advance the slightly more modest claim, “WTC dust samples contain chips of highly energetic nano-thermite composite materials – uniformly nano-sized, proportioned in an organic gas-generating (explosive) matrix”, which appears to be the fallback position: nanothermite may not be explosive, but it can be combined with explosives to make it explosive. The same, alas, can also be said of toothpaste. At some point, therefore, these “leaders” of the 9/11 Truth movement have to concede that a mistake was made and that they have misled the movement: nanothermite cannot possibly hold the key to understanding the demolition of the Twin Towers on 9/11.

James H. Fetzer is a former Marine Corps officer, the founder of Scholars for 9/11 Truth, and a columnist for VT.

T. Mark Hightower has worked as an engineer for nearly 30 years, initially in the chemical industry, then in the space program for NASA, and currently in the environmental field, also with NASA. He is a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). His research on 9/11 is an exercise of his Constitutional rights as a private citizen and in no way represents his employer or any of the professional societies of which he is a member.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Inside Job: More Proof of 9/11 Duplicity

More Proof of 9/11 Duplicity
Jim Fetzer

My 4th of July article, “Inside Job: Seven Questions about 9/11”, raised questions about the events of 9/11 and whether more may have been involved than the official account of nineteen Islamic fundamentalists hijacking four commercial carriers, outfoxing the most sophisticated air defense system in the world, and perpetrating these atrocities under the control of a guy in a cave in Afghanistan.

These are the first plane crashes in its history that have not been investigated by the NTSB. An FBI official, when asked why not, replied, “It wasn’t necessary because we saw them on television.” But we did not see what happened at the Pentagon or in Shanksville “on television”—and what we have seen on TV does not look right.

We have no videos of the crash of Flight 93 in Shanksville and only the five frames from the Pentagon of Flight 77. We have familiar footage of Flight 175 hitting the South Tower and less familiar footage of Flight 11 impacting with the North Tower. Since it was not broadcast that day, that footage raises interesting questions about George W. Bush’s public remarks that, when he watched the plane hit the North Tower, he thought to himself, “There’s one terrible pilot!”

His comment, after all, only makes sense assuming it occurred before the second hit, after which anyone should have realized this was no accident but a deliberate occurrence. Bush added that “the TV was obviously on”, but since the public broadcasts did not show it at that time, the thought has crossed my mind that he may have actually seen it “live” on a closed Secret Service channel, which would be stunning evidence that 9/11 was indeed an inside job.

Since I’ve made several observations about the Pentagon, I want to discuss some troubling aspects of the other crash sites. For those who want more on the Pentagon, I recommend “Pandora’s Black Box”, from Pilots for 9/11 Truth, as well as “National Security Alter” from Citizens Investigation Team, both of which support the existence of a large plane—presumably, a Boeing 757—that flew toward the Pentagon but did not crash into it, consistent with my earlier study.

(1) Flight 11 hitting the North Tower

(a) Remarkably Jules Naudet, a French filmmaker, just happened to be in the vicinity doing a modest documentary about New York Firemen out looking for a “gas leak”. As Leslie Raphael has explained, that a cameraman should have been in precisely the right position to film this event depended upon a rather large number of conditions—either as a matter of coincidence, as the government would have us believe, or by design. If this occurred by chance, it’s improbability is astonishingly small. An odd flash occurs just as the flying object makes contact with the building:

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(b) While the image is too blurry and indistinct to be identifiable as a 767, a time-sequence of the image in motion as it approaches the tower—prepared by Rosalee Grable—does not bear even a faint resemblance:

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(c) And when you compare the pattern at the time of impact with what we see subsequently, there does not seem to be lot of room for doubt that they do not appear to be the same. So the question arises, why not?

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(2) Flight 175 hitting the South Tower

The footage of the South Tower hit exemplifies several anomalies, including a Boeing 767 flying at an impossible speed, an impossible entry into the building (in violation of Newton’s laws), and even passes through its own length into the building in the same number of frames it passes through its own length in air—which is impossible, unless this 500,000 ton, steel and concrete building posed no more resistance to its trajectory in flight than air. The structure of the building, moreover, meant that it actually intersected with eight different floors as follows:

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Each of those floors consisted of steel trusses connected at one end to the core columns and at the other to the steel support columns. They were filled with 4-8” of concrete (deeper in the v-shaped grooves) and posed enormous horizontal resistance. (Imagine what would happen to a plane encountering one of them suspended in space!) The windows were 18” wide and the support columns one meter apart, while there were no windows between floors, which means far less than 50% if the plane should have entered via them. But as Jack White shows here, that is not what the videos display:

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Notice that the plane completely enters the building before its jet fuel explodes, when one would have thought that, since its fuel is stored in its wings, they should have exploded on entry—which is comparable to the failure of the 757 at the Pentagon to have its fuel explode when its wings hit those lampposts. And while some have sought to support the claim that this was a real 767 based upon the engine found at Church & Murray, it did not come from a 767 and, if this FOX News footage is authentic, appears to be a plant, as another of Jack's studies reveals:

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So how can a Boeing 767 travel at am impossible speed (as Pilots for 9/11 Truth has confirmed), enter a steel and concrete building in violation of Newton's laws, pass through its own length into the building in the same number of frames that it passes through its own length in air, and not have its fuel explode as it makes contact with that massive edifice? Even the frames from the Pentagon show a huge fireball upon impact. If that was true of the 757 there, why is it not also true of the 767 here? It looks as though, in this respect, Flight 77 fakery was just a bit better than Flight 175 fakery.

(3) Flight 93 crash site in Shanksville

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(a) A Boeing 757 weighs about 100 tons with a wingspan of about 125' and a tail that stands 44' above the ground. It would have been overwhelmingly larger than the trucks in this photograph, where the alleged crater from the crash was situated. Compare this crash site with those from bona fide crash sites to begin to appreciate the enormity of the deception involved. "This is the most errie thing", the coroner observed at the scene. "I have not, to this day, seen a single drop of blood. Not a drop."

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(b) The reporter for FOX News had similar observations, which I have also verified from the taped interview:

FOX News reporter: It looks like there's nothing there, except for a hole in the ground.

Photographer Chris Konicki: Ah, basically that's right. The only thing you can see from where we where, ah, was a big gouge in the earth and some broken trees. We could see some people working, walking around in the area, but from where we could see it, there wasn't much left.

Reporter: Any large pieces of debris at all?

Konicki: Na, there was nothing, nothing that you could distinguish that a plane had crashed there.

Reporter: Smoke? Fire?

Konicki: Nothing. It was absolutely quite. It was, uh, actually very quiet. Um, nothing going on down there. No smoke. No fire. Just a couple of people walking around. They looked like part of the NTSB crew walking around, looking at the pieces..."
- FOX (09/11/01)

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(c) An alleged eyewitness, Val McClatchey, who resides less than two miles from the purported crash site, claims to have taken a photo showing a plume of smoke from the crash site. Like the smoke coming from the series of dumpsters at the Pentagon, alas, there are good reasons to suspect that her photo was faked. The plume resembles those from detonation explosions more than it does fires from crash sites--and estimates of the location of the plume place it over a pond, which suggests that this is yet another fake photograph in the 9/11 inventory. Indeed, there are many good reasons to suspect that 9/11 was staged with Hollywood-style special effects.

Planes or No-Planes?

Serious students of 9/11 are therefore placed in a dilemma. If they are committed to truth, as the name "9/11 Truth" implies, then they have to confront the evidence that supports the conclusion that all four of the plane crashes--one way or another--appear to have been faked. To put it more precisely, there is no credible evidence of a plane crash in Shanksville nor at the Pentagon, while the evidence for the New York events appears to support video fakery. In a circumstance like this, the best move may be to take a step back and ask yourself if there is any circumstantial evidence that might help to resolve the question in your own mind. Here I would observe that the following considerations be borne in mind, namely:

(i) Elias Davidsson, "There is no evidence that Muslims committed the crime of 9/11", has shown that the government has never actually proven that the hijackers were aboard any of those planes;

(ii) David Ray Griffin, "Phone Calls from the 9/11 Airliners", has shown that the evidence shows that all of the alleged phone calls from all four of the airplanes were faked;

(iii) Col. George Nelson, USAF (ret.), has observed that, of the millions of uniquely identifable component parts from those four airplanes, the government has yet to produce even one;

(iv) John Lear, among our nation's most distinguished pilots, has observed that, before a pilot can pull away from a terminal, he must submit an envelope (with a flight plane, check list, and passenger data), yet none of those envelopes has ever been produced; and,

(v) FAA Registry data shows that, for the four planes allegedly involved in crashed on 9/11, the planes corresponding to Flights 11 and 77 were not deregistered until 01/14/2002 and those for Flights 93 and 175 not until 09/28/2005, which suggests that at least two of those planes were still in the air long after 9/11.

What this suggests to me (and others more expert than I in matters of this kind) is that 9/11 was a staged event designed as a psy-op that was intended to instill fear in the American people to manipulate us to support political policies--including wars of aggression in Afghanistan and Iraq--that we otherwise would never have considered. Since that is the objective of terrorism, the weight of the evidence that students of 9/11 have discovered supports the conclusion that the Bush/Cheney administration has been practicing terrorism on the American people. So take your time and sort this out for yourself. We are talking about the pivotal event of the 21st Century, whose effects--for better or for worse--are enduring to this day.

Jim Fetzer founded Scholars for 9/11 Truth and maintains its web site at

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Doubts about Bugliosi's DIVINITY OF DOUBT

While this blog tends to focus on historical issues, such as the assassination of JFK, the events of 9/11, and other abuses of power and authority, as a professional philosopher, I well know there are other questions that also deserve consideration, such as the existence of God and the place of religion in human experience.

David and I both have relationships with Vince and we find him to be a fascinating fellow. I liked what David had to say about his book, which had dimensions that had not occurred to me in my own reading, and wanted to share. I have replaced the original with a revised version, which I like even better. I trust others will as well.


David W. Mantik

Before I begin my review of Vincent Bugliosi's THE DIVINITY OF DOUBT, here is a sampler of Bugliosi’s own words. Italics for his quotations are used throughout this review. The page numbers are also his. For these opening remarks, as the page numbers increase, the author’s observations tend to become increasingly eccentric (and inconsistent).

“Just because religion makes no sense doesn’t mean that God doesn’t” (p. 58).

“I’m way out of my depth in this discussion”[on improving human morality] (p. 66).

“[W]hile I do not reject evolution, I am not comfortable with the notion at all” (p. 67).

“I would think that the principles of evolution set down by Darwin would be nonselective—yes nondiscriminatory” (p. 77).

“I find many of the claims of science in the area of evolution and the universe . . . just as improbable as the most fanciful of religious beliefs I poke fun at in this book” (p. 88).

“And it [the Bible] does so with an unprecedented power and majesty that has resonated down through the centuries” (p. 102).

“[O]ne cannot reasonably question the book’s [the Bible’s] integrity”
(p. 102).

“They got it [the idea of being born again] from the zaniness of the bible” (p. 109).

“As to falsehoods, an entire volume could be written to support the position that much of the bible is false” (p. 137).

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Bugliosi is often wrong, or at least misleading, but he is rarely in doubt. This swaggering attitude characterizes much of his other writing as well, but it is especially incongruous here. In particular, note the use of “Doubt” in his title. By attacking both theists and atheists, he flaunts his self-righteous open-mindedness about the God issue. However, he (ironically) leaves no doubt that, with respect to the Christian God at least, he is a card-carrying atheist. The title of his book will therefore be highly misleading to most readers. Since he clearly does not believe in the God of contemporary Christians, his tactic of using “Doubt” in the title looks like a public relations ploy.

That he is indeed an atheist (about the contemporary Christian God) need not be argued—he baldly admits as much on multiple pages, as follows.

A. The Christian God Cannot Exist (the title of chapter 3).
B. “I’m not an agnostic on the Christian God” (p. 25).
C. “[T]he Christian God cannot exist” (p. 61).
D. “For purposes of this discussion only, I am presupposing the existence of the Christian God, whom I do not believe exists” (p. 188).

That he is an atheist is also proven by the myriad pages that attack the Christian God (or more accurately, the Christian church), although he leaves other forms of monotheism mostly unscathed in his brief summaries. Even though he frequently smirks during these summaries, detailed critiques of these other religions are sorely lacking. Furthermore, he leaves the reader with the distinct impression that he is not agnostic about these other monotheisms—or about other religions in general. In other words, he looks just like an atheist. Most curiously, nowhere does he even acknowledge the following: polytheism, pantheism, panentheism, henotheism, agnostic theism, or impersonal idealism. For a book on the existence of God, the disappearance of these actors from the stage is pure magic.


Where Bugliosi is indeed an agnostic (about deism), he has surprisingly little to say. Most of the book, in fact, is an unrelenting rant against the practices of contemporary Christianity. Actually, he is so incensed about these practices (aren’t most of us?) that he forgets, for many pages, that his true target is the Christian God. Regarding deism, which he touts as a possibility, he offers only one short chapter (6). However, in this chapter, he cites only two arguments: the teleological (design, i.e., the order in the universe) and the cosmological (first cause). Without explanation, he omits the classic ontological argument—and nearly all other arguments, as well. One possible exception should be mentioned: the anthropic argument, but serious disagreement exists about whether this even favors theism (see THE COSMIC LANDSCAPE by Leonard Suskind). He admits that the cosmological argument is “…strong and seems very difficult to get around” (p. 79). If he truly believes this, he might want to convert to deism. Bugliosi concludes that the teleological (design) arguments fail, although his own idiosyncratic scenarios in this chapter often seem merely silly to me. Since I ultimately agree with his conclusion (that the arguments from design fail), I shall move on.

What certainly impresses Bugliosi, on the other hand, is the cosmological (first cause) argument: he simply cannot accept the possibility that nothing (i.e., the void) could have preceded the entire material universe. On the contrary, he believes that something must have been there, which for him might open the door to deism. This is really the crux of the book: merely because Bugliosi cannot imagine such a void, he thinks that deism just might be possible. Somewhat amusingly, for a similar lack of imagination he takes Dawkins to task: Bugliosi cites Dawkins as being unable to imagine a certain kind of God (p. 54), which is ultimately why he (Dawkins) has remained an atheist. Bugliosi found this mind-set to be totally unconvincing, but here he (Bugliosi) is—adopting precisely the same basis for his own argument, i.e., merely because Bugliosi cannot imagine such a void, he offers deism as a possible option.


Moreover, he ignores the fact that the total energy of our universe (including the gravitational energy, which is negative) may well be zero, i.e., our universe is probably a free lunch. Even the God of deism could have paid that bill, but so could your local bankrupt bank. But it gets even worse. Physicist Victor Stenger, who Bugliosi does not even cite (GOD: THE FAILED HYPOTHESIS: How Science Shows that God Does Not Exist), argues that, at the instant after creation, the universe was maximally disordered. Such fingerprints are not likely consistent with any God of order, deistic or otherwise. In the end, therefore, Bugliosi has offered up only feeble fare, especially given his candid—almost childlike—confession:

“I have no comprehension of things relating to the cosmos” (p. 88).

If he seriously means by this that he cannot comprehend fundamental notions of space and time (e.g., the possible collapse of time and space at the very beginning), then he should remain silent about the cosmological argument. But here is the real horror: his only defense against converting to atheism (from deism) is this same cosmological argument! Does Bugliosi truly believe that he can save us all from atheism via such a tenuous lifeline? Given such a perilous tightrope act, he really must revise his book, i.e., he must radically shore up his attack against the cosmological argument for God’s existence. At the very least, he must immerse his brain a lot longer in modern physics, or else close up shop. Unfortunately, he has a long way to go—he has not even studied high school physics. He might begin with Victor Stenger, who actually calculates the probability of the existence of something (rather than nothing): it is over 60%. Another deserving, but overlooked, book is I DON'T BELIEVE IN ATHEISTS by Christopher Hedges. This book is a profound indictment of both Hitchens and Dawkins and is essential reading. Bugliosi’s case against both of them is pathetic in comparison to the case made against them by Hedges. Finally, devotees of the subject may wish to read (online), “Why Steven Hawking’s Cosmology Precludes a Creator,” by philosopher Quentin Smith.


Bugliosi thinks that it is nobler to parade as an agnostic rather than as an atheist. In this he is surely mistaken. After all, many highly talented individuals are (and have been) atheists:,0. The third most famous man from Hibbing, Minnesota would be hard pressed to join this list. Unfortunately, Bugliosi does not use computers, so he has probably not seen this website. Except for one terse footnote (p. 290) he fails even to try to distinguish among the varieties of atheism. Of course, he also fails to note the varieties of agnosticism. I cannot determine whether these extraordinary omissions are merely due to his stubbornness, or solely due to ignorance.

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The Author: Vincent Bugliosi

To be specific, he states (p. 4) that atheists claim to know (with high certainty) that God does not exist. On the contrary, this is only one form of atheism, a position likely held by only a minority of all atheists. Many would more accurately be called agnostic atheists, i.e., although they do not believe in God, they don’t claim to be certain about this. Even Dawkins (p. 289) rates himself as six (on a scale of seven), when asked about his degree of certainty. Based on his persistent boiling-point frenzies in this book, Bugliosi actually appears to be an agnostic atheist, but he does not so advise his readers.

About Vince

Bugliosi thinks that refusing an atheist label will leave his character unblemished, almost “holier than thou.” Nonetheless, he clearly is an atheist—not only by his own admission, but also as defined by most Americans. His hypocrisy has been unmasked, however, by his failure to attack deism seriously. If he were a pure agnostic, he would pull no punches in his assault on deism. In the end, however, all he offers is his self-admitted poor comprehension of the cosmos and his remarkably second-rate understanding of the cosmological argument. This is very depressing stuff indeed.

This is an egocentric book, too often superficial, and way too often wrong or misleading (see my appendix for dozens of examples). Like many narrowly-trained experts before him, Bugliosi mistakenly thinks that his brainpower will succeed outside his area of expertise. He is not trained in biology or physics or cosmology or theology or philosophy or, for that matter, in any specialty that makes him required reading on God’s existence. He even blunders in history, especially in the history of the early church. Inevitably, therefore, his recurrent idiosyncratic comments are only characteristic of the rank amateur. For these reasons, I cannot even recommend this as an introductory book—the novice reader would not emerge properly grounded. Nor can I recommend it to a moderately sophisticated reader, except possibly for its entertainment value (sometimes unintentional). Such a reader would learn little that was new or valuable. Instead I would strongly propose WHY I BECAME AN ATHEIST by John W. Loftus (an ex-minister). My adjectives about this book are at polar opposites of those about Bugliosi’s book. As we should now expect, though, Bugliosi does not cite this book either.

God’s Existence

The question of God’s existence is indeed profound—for many of us (me, too) it is the most troubling question that life has to offer. That is why I care so much about getting these discussions right. Perhaps Bugliosi can return in ten years with a more mature and less shrill approach (should God will that he lives so long). In my opinion, those who remain theists (e.g., Francis Collins) can do so honestly, although many will disagree with their fundamental assumptions. Michael Novak (NO ONE SEES GOD: The Dark Night of Atheists and Believers), a Catholic and a friend of Hitchens, also makes a solid case for theism. However, for those who have abandoned the God of the Bible (i.e., not necessarily the God of St. Anselm), the answer lies between agnosticism and atheism. Both views can be intellectually respectable.

Ultimately though, the choice rests more on one’s interpretation of the evidence rather than on any uncensored data file—and for that one’s genes (see THE GOD GENE by Dean Hamer) and one’s environment play huge, often determinative, roles. Many of us, often due to personality quirks, cannot live with the uncertainty of agnosticism. I see nothing wrong with that, so long as the basic data are acknowledged. Some will leave agnosticism for atheism simply because the obligation is seen to be on God’s side—i.e., He really should reveal himself to us if He exists. This is a kind of protest position—John K. Roth has even argued for a Protest Theology, in order to protest God’s concealment of himself and also to object to the unrelenting evil in the world (especially that caused by Mother Nature). The idea is to shame God into behaving properly! Moreover, even when we choose our own friends, we only choose those who make themselves available to us, but not those who go into hiding.

Chance Events

Others will choose atheism because they understand at a deep level that chance events can yield a false impression of order and purpose, and the universe does seem to be ordered. This whole subject—of serendipity, karma, kismet, and synchronicity—is so shrouded in mystery, that even our best minds are often sidetracked by this issue. For example (after discussions with Einstein and physics Nobel Laureate Wolfgang Pauli) Carl Gustav Jung wrote a paper with Pauli in which they took synchronicity quite seriously. But order can also arise from underlying natural mechanisms. See WHAT DARWIN GOT WRONG—by two atheists—for a profound discussion of what is wrong with our current understanding of evolution, especially in the matter of biological order. And then there is Stuart A. Kauffman, REINVENTING THE SACRED, and his creative work on self-organizing systems in biology—especially see Chapter 8: “Order for Free.” In short, if initial vacuum fluctuations (at time zero) and self-organizing systems (in biology) can explain away the teleological (design) and cosmological (first cause) arguments, then the door to atheism lies wide open.

Regarding theism versus atheism, the differences are not so great. After all, Christians are atheists about all other religions (for this reason, the Romans actually called them atheists); atheists differ only in rejecting one more God. Insofar as deism goes, it’s very hard to argue with a deist, as Bugliosi has proven here. However, it really doesn’t matter much, does it? After all, what practical difference exists between a deist and an atheist? With the God of deism quite out of the picture (external to the universe), He makes no difference to my routine rituals, my morals, or my afterlife. The only God who might matter to me is an immanent God, like the traditional God of monotheism. That is ultimately why Bugliosi is so misleading—despite the book’s title, he is an atheist about an immanent God. In fact, his only possible theism is deism, but that option hangs by his slender (and highly suspect) thread of the cosmological (first cause) argument. For all practical purposes then, Bugliosi is an atheist. In any case, I suspect that most of his readers will not opt for deism. On the contrary, most of us want to know if God (if He exists) is immanent. Only then does His (or Her) existence matter to us as modern men and women.

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The Reviewer: David W. Mantik

My final indictment of this book, after sleeping on it (not the book) for some time, is that it is irresponsible. See my appendix for numerous examples of Bugliosi’s cavalier and arrogant misadventures. This is indeed a harsh judgment, but Bugliosi claims to be “…an extremely critical person…” (p. xiii), so perhaps karma exists, after all.

About Me

I earned my Ph.D. in physics from the University of Wisconsin (with a focus in biophysics), completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Stanford University, and then entered a tenure-track professorship in physics at the University of Michigan. I later graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School, completed a residency at USC, and then joined the faculty at Loma Linda University Medical School, where I used the proton beam in cancer treatment. I am board certified by the American College of Radiology and have now practiced radiation oncology for 31 years.

I was raised in the Assemblies of God (Pentecostal), during which time I spoke in tongues and experienced a mystic sense of union with the universe. For many years, I taught Sunday School, including multiple classes of college students. I have been a member of the following denominations: Assemblies of God, Southern Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, and Presbyterian. I hold no religious membership cards today, but remain an avid bystander in matters of religion. Unlike Bugliosi (despite his avowed denials to the contrary—see p. 151), I am not angry at religion. I prefer simply to understand it. Therein lies our only hope for progress.

NOTE: While finalizing this review--a more detailed version of which is archived here--I received a 53 minute telephone call from Bugliosi, who offered to send me a copy of the book. Mostly, however, we discussed the JFK assassination—I had reviewed (negatively as well) his RECLAIMING HISTORY: “A Not-Entirely-Positive Review” (online).

David W. Mantik, M.D., Ph.D., is also the world's leading expert on the medical evidence in the assassination of JFK.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Seven Questions about 9/11

Seven Questions about 9/11

Jim Fetzer

As a former Marine Corps officer (1962-66), who spent his 35-year career offering courses in logic, critical thinking, and scientific reasoning to college students, it troubles me when my government appears to be lying to the American people. On this 4th of July, therefore, I want to share with you some of the questions that have arisen in my mind about the events of 9/11, which have been used to justify wars in Iraq and Afghanistan at enormous cost in lives lost and resources expended. I don’t claim to have all of the answers, but here are some of my questions—seven for the 4th of July!

(1) The early explosions

In their study, “Seismic Proof: 9/11 was an inside job”, Gordon Ross and Craig Furlong (one an engineer, one a numerical analyst) present evidence that there were enormous explosions in the subbasements of both of the Twin Towers prior to the impacts of any planes on those buildings. They used extremely reliable data from a geological laboratory run by Columbia University and radar and FAA data to come to the conclusion that those explosions occurred 14 and 17 seconds before those planes hit the towers:

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My first question, therefore, is how were those 19 Islamic terrorists able to arrange these explosions, which drained the water from sprinkler systems that would have otherwise extinguished the rather modest office fires that remained after the jet fuel was consumed in those spectacular fireballs? I have given this a lot of thought and I can’t figure out how they did that.

(2) The impossible entry

We have all seen the footage of Flight 175 hitting the South Tower, which is the only reasonably distinct video coverage we have of any of the four plane crashes. There are plenty of copies of the Michael Hezarkhani video, which was taken more or less from the side, and still others of the Evan Fairbanks video, which was taken looking straight up the side of the South Tower. I have been puzzled, when I have taken a closer look, the plane actually enters the buildings without crumpling, without losing its wings or tail, and with no bodies, seats, or luggage falling to the ground. Here’s what I mean:

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The problem I have is that, as a student of physics in high school and college, I learned that the impact of a moving plane impacting with a stationary building should create the same effects as those of a moving building impacting with a stationary plane. We would not expect a car crashing into an enormous tree to disappear into the tree. My question is, absent the suspension of the laws of physics on 9/11, how could this occur?

(3) The sizing problem

Perhaps because of my military background, I have found the Pentagon attack of special interest. The Department of Defense originally released five frames instead of any of the more than eighty (80) videos that would have captured exactly what happened. Although three of those videos have subsequently been released, none of them shows more about the crash than those original five, four of which show the spectacular fireball, the other the somewhat obscure image just above the gate mechanism that is conveniently labeled “plane”. It looked too small to me. So I asked a friend of mine—who is better at these things than am I—if he could size the image of a Boeing 757 to the tail shown in the frame that the Pentagon had released:

Imagine my surprise when it turned out that Flight 77 should have been more than twice the size of the plane in the Pentagon’s own frame. So my third question is, why isn’t the plane in the image the size of a Boeing 757?

(4) The lack of debris

Although many Americans are unaware, the hit point on the Pentagon is on the ground floor. There is a hole about 10’ high and 16-17’ wide, which is surrounded by a chain-link fence, two enormous spools of cable and a pair of cars, where there are unbroken windows beside and above the opening. What we do not see is an enormous pile of aluminum debris, broken wings or the tail, bodies, seats or luggage. Remarkably, not even the engines were recovered from the crash site—although a part of a compressor, which was too small to have come from a 757 and too large for a cruise missile—was later reported to have been found. Even more striking to me, however, is this photo of the civilian lime-green fire-trucks as they extinguish the fires:

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Since these fire trucks arrived after the crash and spent fifteen minutes or so putting it out, I have been struck by the clear, green, unblemished Pentagon lawn. It looks so smooth, I expect Tiger to appear with his caddy to practice his game. My question, therefore, is, why is there no debris on the lawn?

(5) The planted fuselage

Later, of course, debris would start showing up. Since there was none even as the fire trucks were extinguishing the fires, it has to have come from somewhere. It would have been difficult to have had officers and enlisted men carry pieces of debris out onto the lawn without being observed, so it has occurred to me that perhaps it was dropped from a C-130, which was circling the Pentagon that morning. That’s my best guess. I am open to other possibilities, but I haven’t been able to think of real alternatives. One piece of debris has been used to cement the case for the crash of Flight 77:

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One of the oddities about this debris is that it shows no signs of having been exposed to those fireballs and includes a piece of vine. Another student of the Pentagon, James Hanson, a newspaper reporter who earned his law degree from the University of Michigan College of Law, has traced that debris to an American Airlines 757 that crashed in a rain forest above Cali, Columbia in 1995. "It was the kind of slow-speed crash that would have torn off paneling in this fashion, with no fires, leaving them largely intact." My question is, how did this piece of fuselage wind up on the Pentagon lawn?

(6) The dumpster fires

As though that were not disturbing enough, I was also puzzled why, later in the day, when rumors were circulating that the Capitol might be next and the members of Congress rushed out onto the steps of the building, when they looked across the Potomac, they witnesses billowing black clouds of smoke. That struck me as rather odd, since the lime green fire trucks had put out the modest fires long ago. When I took a closer look, I discovered that these black clouds of smoke were not coming from the Pentagon itself but from a series of enormous dumpsters in front of the building. See what I mean:

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When I was still living in Duluth before my retirement in June of 2006, another student of the Pentagon came by and showed me forty-four (44) more frames of the same thing, where you could actually see light between the dumpsters and the building. So my question is, why was it necessary to fake fires coming from the Pentagon if a plane had actually crashed there?

(7) The absence of interest

Since I have been unable to discover the answers to questions like these—where I actually have many more—it has dumbfounded me that nearly ten years after the fact, the mass media, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, CBS, NBC, ABC, and CNN has shown no interest at all in addressing them. Here are three examples of why it seems to me these questions should be burning issues in every major media outlet in this country, where we are confronted only by silence:

(a) Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, the Co-Chairs of the 9/11 Commission, have long since published WITHOUT PRECEDENT: THE INSIDE STORY OF THE 9/11 COMMISSION (2006), in which they explain their frustration at the lack of cooperation from the administration, citing especially the fact that the Pentagon provided three different accounts of the events of 9/11, not a very reassuring indication that they got everything right. And this report is not from a “conspiracy theorist” but from the co-chairs of the 9/11 inquiry.

(b) A former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in three administrations, Dr. Steve Pieczenik, has revealed not only that Osama bin Laden actually died on or about 15 December 2001 (as David Ray Griffin, OSAMA BIN LADEN: DEAD OR ALIVE (2009) explained), but that he had been told by a high-ranking general that 9/11 was a “false flag” attack, which was done by the government in order to arouse the American people to support wars of aggression in Afghanistan and Iraq. And this guy earned his Ph.D. at MIT.

(c) And Alan Sabrosky, who earned his Ph.D. at the University of Michigan and is a graduate of the US Army War College, has explained that 9/11 was conceived by neo-cons in and out of the Department of Defense who wanted to advance the proposals of Project for the New American Century by taking advantage of the demise of the Soviet Union to expand the power of the sole remaining superpower by creating an empire around the world, but worried that Americans would not support those wars absent “a new Pearl Harbor”.

Now I cannot claim to know for certain that what we are being told by Lee Hamilton, Thomas Kean, Steve Pieczenik, and Alan Sabrosky is true. I can tell you that it is consistent with my own research and that of others with whom I have been in collaboration since founding Scholars for 9/11 Truth. In case you may think that I am one of those “conspiracy theorists” myself — where I have done a lot of research on JFK as well as on 9/11 — just ask yourself whether my six questions deserve answers and why the American media has been ignoring them in the land of the free and home of the brave!

Jim Fetzer is McKnight Professor Emeritus at the University of Minnesota Duluth and maintains a blog about issues of public interest at