9/11 and Skeptic Magazine’s ‘Science’ of Controlled Demolitions

Chris Mohr at Skeptic magazine writes that “conspiracists are working hard to publicize their claims of scientific validity to the conjecture that the World Trade Center buildings were destroyed through controlled demolition.” He mentions a debate he had with Richard Gage, the founder of Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, where more than 1,500 professional architects and engineers who question the official explanation for the collapse of the three World Trade Center buildings have signed a petition calling for a new—that is to say a real—investigation. “I thought initially that Gage might be on to something,” Mohr writes, “until I examined his science carefully” and debated him. In his article, he lists his responses to the controlled-demolition hypothesis. Sticking to the question of World Trade Center Building 7 (WTC 7), let’s examine Mohr’s arguments against the science behind the controlled-demolition hypothesis and in favor of the fire-induced collapse hypothesis. If you’re unfamiliar with WTC 7, you can watch it collapsing on 9/11 in the video below.

Mohr begins his case with the argument that “You cannot secretly prepare a controlled demolition of the two World Trade Center buildings … without anyone noticing anything unusual.” He does not mention it, but we may presume he thinks it would be just as impossible in the case of WTC 7, the third WTC building to collapse completely on 9/11. The main point to be made about this assertion is that it is not a scientific argument, but speculation. It for starters assumes that nobody noticed anything unusual in the days, weeks, and months before 9/11. But is that true? Since this possibility was never actually investigated, and thus building workers were never interviewed and asked whether they noticed any suspicious activity going on, we don’t really know. Also, while it may seem unlikely that this could be done, if the actual scientific evidence disproves the fire-induced collapse hypothesis and proves the alternative, then one has a priori knowledge that however unlikely, this must have occurred. So we must turn to the science, which Mohr does get to, eventually, as we shall see.

Mohr writes, “Though it is true that no tall steel frame buildings ever collapsed due to fire alone prior to 9/11, since then, other tall steel framed buildings have.” He is referring, of course, to WTC 7, which wasn’t hit by a plane. It did suffer significant debris impact damage from the collapse of the North Tower, but the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the government agency responsible for the investigation into the building’s collapse, acknowledged that the damage was neither an initiating nor determinative factor in the collapse. As the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) noted in its initial report, “Prior to September 11, 2001, there was little, if any, record of fire-induced collapse of large fire-protected steel buildings.” Following up on FEMA’s preliminary investigation, NIST noted in its final report that the collapse of WTC 7 “was the first known instance of the total collapse of a tall building primarily due to fires.” Richard Gage has observed that in every instance where a tall building (that is, a steel-framed skyscraper) has collapsed with characteristics like those of WTC 7, it was a known controlled demolition.

But Mohr says that it has since occurred that “other tall steel framed buildings have” “collapsed due to fire alone”. His example? “On May 13, 2008, a large part of the tall concrete-reinforced steel architecture tower at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands caught fire and thereafter had a very fast, nearly straight-down collapse mostly into its own footprint.” The first problem with Mohr’s example is that a reinforced concrete building is not a steel-framed building. Mohr is obviously unaware of the distinction between a building constructed with steel columns and beams (steel-framed) and a building constructed with concrete poured around reinforcing steel, or rebar (reinforced concrete). But let’s have a closer look, anyways, just for fun. Below is an image from the FEMA report showing what WTC 7 looked like after its collapse.

WTC 7 debris (FEMA)A 47-story, steel-framed building collapsed completely and mostly into its own footprint. Now here’s what the 13-story reinforced-concrete Faculty of Architecture building at Delft University looked like before it caught fire.

Faculty of ArchitectureAnd here is what it looked like after what Mohr describes as its “very fast, nearly straight-down collapse mostly into its own footprint”.

Faculty of Architecture CollapseThe first thing you just might possibly have noticed, if you were paying close attention, is that most of the building actually remained standing. The attentive viewer may have picked up on the fact that this doesn’t at all resemble the debris pile of WTC 7. So, to review Mohr’s record on this count, he falsely claims the Faculty of Architecture building was a steel-framed building before stating, oblivious to the distinction, that it was actually not. And then, by implication and by omission, he would have his readers believe the Faculty of Architecture building, like WTC 7, had collapsed completely and into its own footprint, when in it was just a partial collapse and most of the building remained standing. While Mohr asserted that “other tall steel framed buildings”, plural, have since collapsed from fire, presuming this is his best example—or non-example, rather—we may dismiss his false claim and move on. It remains true that this had never happened before 9/11, and it has never happened since.

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Jeremy R. Hammond is an award-winning political analyst, editor and publisher of Foreign Policy Journal, and author. His new book is Obstacle to Peace: The US Role in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Read the first chapter FREE at ObstacleToPeace.com! 

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  • I have posted a rebuttal to Chris Mohr’s “rebuttal” to Richard Gage because he dragged my name into it. I am not speaking for Richard or AE911Truth. I’m speaking for me here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8N6V68jotg

  • Congratulations Jeremy on your Project Censored Award. I support open debate and a truly free press. Some responses to your article:

    A large part of the Delft Building did collapse, even if it wasn’t global or even 50% of the buiulding. You can see that in the photos Jeremy provides. As I said, the collapse was fast, mostly straight down, and the strong steel-concrete supports were not strong enough to stop a gravity-powered collapse from fire aloone. In my YouTube series part 3, history of fire collapses, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsjfSG69Pik, there are many other examples of other steel structures collapsing due to fire.

    The iron microsphere issue is covered in my YouTube rebuttal series part 9 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ev48qEO9SyU. RJ Lee’s study was very large in scope, and they found the iron-rich microspheres and weren’t surprised to find them. Why not? And why didn’t this dust study turn up thernitic materials?

    As for the suflidized steel, you can find out much more in my YouTube video part 10 sulfidized steel http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OpzRcYqlKQ. Jeremy’s falsely asserted that
    “Mohr would apparently have his readers believe that the steel used to build WTC 7 was “sulfidized steel” with a lower melting point than “regular steel”, by which he presumably means structural steel. But this was structural steel.” No,. I am only saying that these two small small samples, bheing a eutectic mixture of steel and sulfur, could have melted at 1740 degrees, 1000 degrees F. lower than structural steel’s melting point.

    Jeremy is right that I did not adequately reference my assertion that NIST certainly did not “obfuscate” or “ignore” the sulfidized steel issue. Here’s better footnoting: They mentioned it expressly in NCSTAR1-3C, NIST mentions both samples. Sample 2 had clearly no bearing on the collapse (was located no higher than the 53rd floor) and was in the prone position during the corrosive attack.

    “Single Column K-16” on page 229 to page 233) (PDF page 279 –
    “Finally, as this piece was clearly in a prone position during the corrosive attack and was located no higher than the 53rd floor of the building, this degradation phenomenon had no bearing on the weakening of the steel structure or the collapse of the building .”

    NIST also mentions sample 1 and why it was not used the the WTC 7 report

    1. There’s no direct evidence that Sample 1 came from Building 7 at all
    2. If it did, there’s no indication where Sample 1 was in the structure
    3. It can’t be said with certainty if the corrosive attack happened before the collapse or after
    You’ll see in my video that in a personal email Barnett gives several possible causes of the sulfidized steel but does NOT suggest thermate and does NOT support the controlled demoltion theory.

    You can get more details of my free-fall collapse of Building 7 explanation at part 18 Building 7 freefall collapse http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MER5PhIDt0. Jeremy is right, it is a departure from NIST, whose scientists told me personally that once the collapse initiates, “gravity takes care of it.” I researched a more detailed explanation with the help of several physicists, engineers and fire safety experts. It’s the first time it’s been explained at a layman’s level. It is complex, but I assure you it is not convoluted, Jeremy’s misrepresentations and mockeries notwithstanding. And BTW David Chandler’s video is now out of date, and the link to part 18 above is the revised one; his link has been removed as I made important corrections after watching his video. His name no longer appears in the revised version either.

    As for Jeremy’s responses to my if…then rebuttals, most of them are dealt with in much more detail in my YouTube rebuttals (keyword chrismohr911).

    I completely disagree with the controlled demolition theory and support open debate on the subject.

    • I appreciate your willingness to debate the subject openly, Chris, and also your respectfulness towards me. However, I must be honest and tell you I cannot say I am convinced of your sincerity, because presuming you are not being willfully dishonest with your readers/viewers, then you are just ignorant about the subject matter you are trying to “debate”. With all due respect, you just don’t know what you are talking about, and if you are truly interested in the truth, as you claim, you will issue a correction regarding your factual errors and misleading statements in your Skeptic article. Addressing your response to my article:

      1 – Tall Building Collapse

      “A large part of the Delft Building did collapse, even if it wasn’t global or even 50% of the buiulding.”

      Suggesting half the building collapsed is extremely generous. The point is that it was disingenuous not to disclose this fact to your readers. You imply by omission of this fact that it was, like, WTC 7, a complete collapse of a tall steel-framed building. Your YouTube video also contains the same FALSE claim that the Delft University building was a steel-framed building. It was not. It was a reinforced concrete building. I don’t know if you were being deliberately dishonest about that in your video and article, or if you just didn’t know the difference, but a correction on these points is in order on your article at Skeptic.

      If you have any examples of a tall building–not reinforced concrete, not “steel structures”, not amphitheaters designed to have large open areas with few or no columns, etc., but a steel-framed high rise building–collapsing symmetrically and completely into its own footprint, please produce them.

      The fact remains, as Richard Gage said, “no tall steel frame building has ever collapsed due to fire”. It had not ever happened before, and it has never happened since.

      I look forward to seeing your factual error and error of omission corrected at Skeptic.

      2 – Iron-Rich Microspheres

      “RJ Lee’s study was very large in scope, and they found the iron-rich microspheres and weren’t surprised to find them. Why not? And why didn’t this dust study turn up thernitic materials?”

      I already addressed both the the implication of your first question and your second question here in the article, and you are simply repeating the same errors, ignoring the fact that RJ Lee’s explanation that they were the result of fires in the buildings cannot be true, because it requires 1500+ C fires to melt iron/steel, and the fires didn’t get anywhere near that hot, and ignoring the fact that RJ Lee didn’t test to see whether any of the materials they found were thermitic. Like NIST, you can’t find what you don’t look for. Your video repeats the FALSE assertion that office fires could produce the temperatures required to melt iron/steel and produce the microspheres.

      It behooves you to inform your readers at Skeptic that office fires cannot produce the temperatures required to melt iron/steel and produce the microspheres found in the dust.

      3 – Eutectic Steel Sample

      “I am only saying that these two small small samples, bheing a eutectic mixture of steel and sulfur, could have melted at 1740 degrees, 1000 degrees F. lower than structural steel’s melting point.”

      This is effectively a circular argument. You can’t argue that the steel melted because it was eutectic and then argue that it was eutectic because it melted at a lower temperature. You have to explain how the liquid eutectic mixture that attacked the structural steel was created in the first place, which you haven’t done.

      You repeat in the video, “Sulfidized Steel Melts at Much Lower Temperatures”, which, again seems to be based on your misunderstanding that this was some special kind of steel or something. This is structural steel with a melting point of more than 1500 C, and it was melted at a lower temperature (~1000 C) because the sulfur in the eutectic mixture effectively lowered its melting point. How could this liquid eutectic mixture that melted through the steel by lowering its melting point have been created in the first place? Where did the sulfur come from? You don’t even attempt to answer these questions in your article or reply comment, and you acknowledge in your video that you have no answers. Nobody does. At least not one that fits in with the fire-induced collapse hypothesis. As I pointed out, Jonathan Cole, PE, reproduced some of the visible characteristics of the WTC 7 sample, including the “swiss cheese” appearance, by using thermate.

      You argue in the video that the sulfur came from gypsum. But I addressed that fallacy in the above article. Your comment here doesn’t address the fact that gypsum is used for FIRE-PROTECTION, and you haven’t offered any explanation for how the sulfur was freed from its form of calcium sulfate. Members of Barnett’s WPI team did further tests in which they applied iron sulfide to the steel. They did not apply GYPSUM to the steel! Jonathan Cole also tested to see whether gypsum could cause sulfidation and intergranular melting of the steel, and, unlike his experiment with thermate, he could not reproduce the effects on the steel. Further study is obviously required, but the use of thermate at this stage is clearly the leading, most scientific hypothesis.

      Also, you state in your paper that NIST did not ignore, but addressed the steel samples Barnett’s team studied. Yet Richard Gage was correct to point out that in the case of the sample from WTC 7, NIST did indeed ignore it, claiming falsely that it did not exist.

      You similarly say in the video, and repeat in your comment, that NIST DID consider BOTH steel samples, but that is FALSE. NCSTAR1-3 C states explicitly, “WTC 7 steel was not evaluated in this study of the tower damage and failure modes.” NIST examined only the sample from one of the Twin Towers, and Richard Gage is exactly correct to say they deal with the sample from WTC 7 by IGNORING it. You can’t ignore something much more than to deny its existence.

      You say NIST “also mentions sample 1” in NCSTAR 1-3 C, but that also is NOT TRUE. They ALLUDE to it by saying, “No pieces could be unambiguously identified as being from WTC 7”. That’s it! Turning to NCSTAR 1-3 B, they say:

      “Steel samples were removed from the site before the NIST investigation began. In the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11, debris was removed rapidly from the site to aid in recovery efforts and facilitate emergency responders’ efforts to work around the site. Once it was removed from the scene, the steel from WTC 7 could not be clearly identified. Unlike the pieces of steel from WTC 1 and WTC 2, which were painted red and contained distinguishing markings, WTC 7 steel did not contain such identifying characteristics.”

      NIST’s explanation for its failure to examine any physical evidence is patently illogical and totally insufficient. The WTC complex was the scene of a search and rescue operation, but that should not have precluded the debris from WTC 7 from being hauled away and stored separately in the first place, as criminal investigative procedures for the preservation of evidence would have necessitated (had they been followed). Even assuming the debris from WTC 7 was simply tossed together with the rest of the debris from the other buildings, naturally, if the steel from WTC 1 and 2 contained identifying characteristics, then it could be reasonably concluded that any steel without such characteristics would most likely have come from WTC 7. Those steel members could then have been compared to the design drawings for WTC 7 and their known dimensions—which ipso facto are identifying characteristics—in order to make a final determination as to their origin.

      I look forward to seeing your error with reference to NCSTAR 1-3 C and NIST’s having ignored the WTC 7 sample corrected at Skeptic.

      4 – Free fall

      “Jeremy’s misrepresentations and mockeries notwithstanding.”

      The claim that in addition to the force of gravity, the building itself was doing the extra work of throwing itself to the ground, providing the additional energy required to overcome resistance and thus achieve free fall, makes a mockery of itself and hardly needs any help from me. If I misrepresented your argument, you are free to correct me and explain. I would simply observe the fact that you make no attempt to do so in your comment.

      Turning to your video, you suggest only part of the building collapsed at free fall, and imply it was only the north face that did so, which is false, and observably so. As NIST explains, from the onset of global collapse, the building fell “as a single unit”, which you can see in the videos, and achieved gravitational acceleration for 2.25 seconds, 8 stories, 105 ft., which you can measure as David Chandler, NIST, and others have done. You rely upon NIST’s false claim of a “Stage 1” of collapse (see article above, and the link). You falsely claim NIST used a video “looking straight at the north perimeter wall” and show a different video than the one NIST used, thus misleading your viewers to think this was the same video. In fact, the next video you show, from street level to the northwest, is the one NIST used. This false assertion is relevant to NIST’s fraud regarding “Stage 1”, which your argument depends upon.

      You state in the video, “this was an asymmetrical interior collapse followed by an [symmetrical] exterior collapse”, then, after having just so described a classic implosion, state that it did not resemble a controlled demolition! What can explain this cognitive dissonance? You point to the fact that it tilted southward as it met resistance in order to argue that it was not symmetrical and thus didn’t resemble a controlled demolition, but, 1) the collapse was symmetrical from the onset and through the period of free-fall, and 2) surely you must know that CD experts can and do intentionally cause buildings to tilt in the same way, in order to prevent damage to neighboring buildings.

      For your “lever” drawing the follows, you narrate that the loads from the failed interior columns under the east penthouse were shifted to neighboring columns. But the column failure (according to the hypothesis) was caused by cascading floor failures. A column can’t bear the load of a floor that isn’t there because the connections have failed and it has collapsed. You talk about the kink, but make the same error as NIST in suggesting this was downward displacement (again, see article and link above, regarding “Stage 1” fraud). You argue that with increased load, perimeter columns buckled. But sudden onset of free-fall means there was no energy available to do the work of buckling the columns (we’ll come to your “lever” argument). You repeat the fallacy that only the north perimeter wall was in free-fall, when in fact the building was collapsing “as a single unit”. Your argument depends upon this fallacy. You state:

      “Those collapsing beams still clinging to the wall functioned as levers. If the left end of the beam is momentarily held in place or even slowed down in its fall, the left side becomes the pivot for the lever. If the right side is still grabbing onto the wall and some kind of weight is also yanking the beam down, that weight is leveraged, and the lever overcomes residual resistance from the buckling columns and THROWS the facade down at free fall or maybe faster than free fall acceleration.” (Your emphasis)

      This is gibberish. Where to begin? There can be no “pivot”, for starters, when any pivot point itself was collapsing at free-fall as the building fell “as a single unit”. And that’s that, nothing more need be said about this nonsense. Except perhaps to add that David Chandler in the video he links above does a good job of identifying your ignorance on the subject matter, which led you to conclude by looking at data points above the linear regression mean the collapse was GREATER than free-fall acceleration at certain stages. I’m a layman like you, but I did my homework and researched this subject for years before ever writing about it. I respectfully suggest that you take more time to study and be able to get your facts straight before you put pen to paper, because if you are truly interested in the truth, you do yourself and your readers a disservice by spreading your misinformation and falsehoods.

  • I’m going to respond one item at a time. Regarding the Delft Building fire collapse, Jeremy accused me of being unaware of the difference between a steel-reinforced concrete building and a steel-framed building. I do know the difference, and I know that Delft was a reinforced concrete building (I read Brian Meachum’s preliminary pdf report). Both building types employ steel for structural support. I was simply following the lead of 9/11 Truth people like Richard Gage in his video Blueprint for Truth: they give example after example of tall buildings that did not collapse in a fire, and look at how THEY are constructed:

    Windsor Tower Madrid (partial collapse): Reinforced concrete was used in the core and under the 17th floor.
    The Parque Central in Caracas, Venezuela: reinforced concrete structure consisted of perimeter columns connected by post-tensioned concrete macroslabs” Severe deflection in steel beams, concrete held up.
    The One Meridian Plaza Fire: constructed of steel and concrete
    And most ironic of all: the recent 2009 Beijing Mandarin Oriental Hotel Fire. Construction was only began after its builder, ARUP East Asia, had conducted a thorough internal study of the WTC collapses. Instead of the steel-only structural framework of Building 7, ARUP used a combination of concrete and steel framing for the TVCC building. Those incredible shots of the Mandarin Oriental on fire were taken during the first hour of the fire. The firefighters were able to gain control of the blaze in about an hour, fully extinguishing the fire six hours after it began. By contrast, the fires in Building 7 were never fought, because FDNY had no water to reach the building.

    For that matter, in the Windsor Tower, the reinforced concrete sections all survived, whereas the solely steel-framed sections all collapsed. Note too that to my knowledge, unlike with Building 7, fire crews aggressively fought all these fires. No jet crashed into any of these buildings, spilling jet fuel inside, stripping off the spray on insulation, and causing structural damage, as happened at WTC I and II.

    So I can be forgiven if I called Deflt a steel building, even if it was concrete reinforced with steel just like many of Gage’s examples. The initial Meachum study said “The fire and subsequent collapse of a substantial portion of the Faculty of Architectural Building at the Delft University of Technology is significant in that fire-related collapse of structures is rare, with collapse of reinforced concrete structures even more so.” I interpret this to mean that reinforced concrete is even more fire-resistant than steel-framed structures with only spray-on fireproofing. So my example is of a building that is even tougher in its construction than the WTC buildings. And the “substantial portion” that collapsed still fell mostly straight down, pretty much all at once, very fast.

    Jeremy tried to rebut my claim that a big part of the building collapsed (I never called it a global collapse, but is there a difference between “a substantial portion” and “a big part”?) What I said: the part that collapsed behaved in a manner similar to the collapse of Building 7.

    So here’s the deal: I’ll remove the Delft comparison if you, Richard Gage and everyone else in the 9/11 Truth movement limits your descriptions of fiery buildings that didn’t collapse to steel frame buildings at least 40 stories high which take up a whole city block, employ a “Tube in a tube” design, came off its core columns near the bottom where the collapse initiated, was struck by another burning building, weakened by unfought fires for over 6 hours, and had trusses that were attached with two 5/8″ bolts. Of course that is absurd. My point? Comparisons HAVE to be made between buildings with some differences in them when the sample size is so small. And I submit that my comparison stands up fairly well and your comparisons, well, many of them collapse on closer scrutiny.

    • Chris, if you knew the difference, at the time your wrote the article, between a steel-framed building and a reinforced concrete building, then you were not guilty of mere ignorance, but of being willfully dishonest with your readers.

      I look forward to you correcting your factual errors and misinformation at Skeptic, including, but not limited to, this one.

  • Jeremy wrote (above): “Chris, if you knew the difference, at the time your wrote the article, between a steel-framed building and a reinforced concrete building, then you were not guilty of mere ignorance, but of being willfully dishonest with your readers.”

    Dear Jeremy,

    My Buddhist friends talk a lot about “assuming good intent” when facing disagreements. In that spirit, I submit to you that:
    1) I have a good layman’s understanding of the issues I am talking about, and I run the things I say by scientists and engineers.
    2) I am honest.
    3) I sometimes make mistakes.

    In the case of the Delft collapse, yes I knew it was steel-reinforced concrete, but having seen on 9/11 Truth videos several examples of steel-reinforced concrete buildings or cores not collapsing in fires, I thought such buildings were acceptable to use as examples, and my mistakenly calling Delft a steel building or even a steel-framed building did not change the fact that all buildings, regardless of materials, can collapse in a fire.

    In preparing for my March 6 debate with Richard Gage, I asked him what he thought were the most compelling reasons to believe in controlled demolition. I warned him that I would look at his best evidence, and it could even change my mind, in which case I would have to call off the debate. We directly debated his strongest arguments. Neither Richard nor I ever once accused the other of being ignorant or a liar or insane. You and some others in the 9/11 Truth movement have chosen to attack me by saying I am either incredibly ignorant or a liar. As you praise David Chandler’s notorious “pearls before swine” video attack on me, you too grossly magnify my errors and look for evidence that I am willfully dishonest, assuming ill intent, and thereby encouraging the people who admire your work to dismiss out of hand what I am saying. I notice that the more people attack me personally, the less they tend to look at what I am actually saying.

    The people who are qualified to say I am ignorant and unable to understand the issues I am debating are the scientists and engineers who accept the “natural collapse” theory and who know way more than either of us. They universally support my efforts to debate this issue from a layman/journalist’s perspective and say I am interpreting their explanations well (and that I make mistakes sometimes).

    I wish you well in your quest for the truth, and I may yet change my mind if new evidence (such as independent proof of thermitics in the dust) presents itself to me. But now it is time we part ways. While I always welcome corrections even from 9/11 Truth people, I am not willing to allow the debate to descend to me defending against charges of utter ignorance and willful dishonesty.

    In the meantime know I share with you a desire for a world guided by peace, justice and truth.

    • Chris, you will observe that I had originally assumed you had merely made a mistake because you just didn’t know the difference between a steel-framed and reinforced concrete building. But then you replied to insist that you did indeed know the difference. Ergo, when you said the Delft building was a steel-framed building, then you knew that what you were saying was false. You cannot claim on one hand that you know the difference and on the other hand say your claiming the building was steel-framed was some kind of honest “mistake”. Was it a typo? Did you mean to type “reinforced concrete”, but it just came out “steel-framed”? Either you were ignorant at the time you wrote it of the difference or you were being willfully dishonest. You can’t have it both ways, claiming both that you are not ignorant and that you are not dishonest. If you were honest, then you were ignorant, and if you were not ignorant, therefore you were dishonest. This is not an accusation, it is a logical truth.