The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the Fin

"Science," the Greek word for knowledge, when appended to the word "political," creates what seems like an oxymoron. For who could claim to know politics? More complicated than any game, most people who play it become addicts and die without understanding what they were addicted to. The rest of us suffer under their malpractice as our "leaders." A truer case of the blind leading the blind could not be found. Plumb the depths of confusion here.

The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the Fin

Postby admin » Tue Jul 03, 2018 12:41 am

The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the Final Official Report About 9/11 is Unscientific and False
by David Ray Griffin
© David Ray Griffin, 2019





It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.

-- Sinclair Lewis, 1935

To Niels Harrit, Steven Jones, and Kevin Ryan, three scientists who have done so much to help us understand what happened in New York City on September 11, 2001.

And to the memory of Barry Jennings, whose truth-telling may have cost him his life.

Table of Contents:

• Back Cover
• Inside Cover
• Acknowledgments
• Frequently Cited Works
• Introduction: The Background to NIST's WTC 7 Report
• Part I: NIST's Unscientific Rejection of the Most Likely Theory
o 1. NIST as a Political, Not a Scientific, Agency
o 2. Some Principles of Scientific Method
o 3. NIST's Refusal to Begin with the Most Likely Hypothesis
o 4. NIST's Ignoring of Physical Evidence for Explosives
o 5. NIST's Ignoring of Testimonial Evidence for Explosives
o 6. NIST's Straw-Man Arguments against Explosives
• Part II: NIST's Unscientific Arguments for Its Own Theory
o 7. NIST's Theory of an Unprecedented Collapse: An Overview
o 8. The Initiation and Spread of Fires: NIST's Unempirical Account
o 9. Fire and Steel Temperatures: Implausible Claims Based on Distorted Data
o 10. From Thermal Expansion to Global Collapse: Fabrications and Contradictions
• Conclusion: NIST's WTC 7 Report as Unscientific and False
• Appendix A: Why Did Explosions in WTC 7 Begin by 9:30 AM?
• Appendix B: Another Towering Inferno That Did Not Collapse
• Notes
• Index
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Re: The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the

Postby admin » Tue Jul 03, 2018 12:42 am

Back Cover:

‘David Ray Griffin has written a powerful book that asks disturbing questions and seeks to debunk myths about September 11. It is provocative, well-researched, and beyond convincing.”

-- Rosie O’Donnell

“A definitive study of what happens when political concerns are permitted to override science and the scientific method. With intellectual finesse worthy of a scientist, Griffin shows that NIST’s WTC 7 report has no scientific credibility. A must read for all concerned with the restoration of science to its ‘rightful place’ in our democracy.”

--- John D. Wyndham, Ph.D., Physics, Cambridge University; former Research Fellow at the California Institute of Technology

At 5:20 in the afternoon on 9/11, Building 7 of the World Trade Center collapsed, even though it had not been struck by a plane and had fires on only a few floors. The reason for its collapse was considered a mystery. In August 2008, the National Institute of Standards and Technology issued its report on WTC 7, declaring that “the reason for the collapse of World Trade Center 7 is no longer a mystery” and that “science is really behind what we have said.”

Showing that neither of these claims is true, David Ray Griffin demonstrates that NIST is guilty of the most serious types of scientific fraud: fabricating, falsifying, and ignoring evidence. He also shows that NIST’s report left intact the central mystery: How could a building damaged by fire – not explosives – have come down in free fall?

David Ray Griffin has published 35 books on philosophy, religion, and politics. His most recent 9/11 book, The New Pearl Harbor Revisited, was a Publishers Weekly “Pick of the Week” in 2008.  
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Re: The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the

Postby admin » Tue Jul 03, 2018 12:43 am

Inside Cover:

Advance Praise for The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7

"David Ray Griffin has provided a comprehensive dismantling of NIST's theory about WTC 7, according to which it suffered global collapse because of ordinary building fires. Besides showing that NIST committed massive scientific fraud, Griffin also points out that NIST was able to complete its theory only by affirming a miracle: a steel-framed high-rise building coming down in free fall even though explosives had not been used to remove its columns."

-- Richard Gage, member of American Institute of Architects; founder of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth

"Based on my engineering knowledge and experience, I fully agree with Dr. Griffin's conclusion that NIST's report on the collapse of WTC 7 is pseudo-science, containing claims that are misleading and even outright false. Numerous contradictions exposed by outside experts during the public review process were completely ignored, because they did not fit NIST's contrived explanation."

-- Jack Keller, Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers; member of the National Academy of Engineering

"During my 33 years as a research physicist at the Naval Research Laboratory, it was my great joy to be able to contribute to the advancement of science without the slightest interference by NRL officials. So I was sickened to read in David Ray Griffin's assiduously researched book of unequivocal evidence for massive scientific fraud committed by a politicized NIST. I implore President Obama to end the subversion of science at NIST and open a new, unfettered, investigation of the 9/11 attacks."

-- David L. Griscom, Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the American Physical Society

"In 2004, over 15,000 scientists charged that the Bush administration had engaged in persistent 'distortion of scientific knowledge for partisan political ends.' In this book, David Ray Griffin shows that NIST's report on the destruction of WTC 7 is plagued throughout with various forms of scientific fraud, all of which point to a deliberate effort to avoid the extensive evidence that WTC 7 was brought down by controlled demolition."

-- Earl Staelin, attorney

"If you consider it important that the US government's science agencies provide truthful information to the public, this book by David Ray Griffin is a must read. It shows beyond a shadow of doubt that NIST's report on the 'collapse' of WTC 7 did not tell us the truth."

-- Dwain Deets, former Director for Research Engineering at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center

"Professor Griffin's meticulous dissection of NIST's WTC 7 report shows just why its theory of fire-induced progressive collapse is wholly inadequate and essentially fraudulent, and why the actual demise of this huge building could have been brought about only by intentional demolition, which could have been set up and carried out only by domestic forces."

-- Tony Szamboti, mechanical engineer and former member of the US Navy

"Once again, David Ray Griffin has taken on a complicated piece of the 9/11 story and made it understandable. Whether you are a novice about 9/11 or have been following the inconsistencies of the government's story closely, you will find Griffin's new book enlightening."

-- Lorie Van Auken, widow of Kenneth Van Auken, who was killed at WTC 1 on 9/11, and member of the Family Steering Committee for the 9/11 Commission
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Re: The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the

Postby admin » Tue Jul 03, 2018 12:44 am


In writing this book, I received an enormous amount of help from many people.

The most help was received from Elizabeth Woodworth, who has become my volunteer assistant. Besides making countless suggestions for improving each chapter, she checked and in many case provided the information in the notes.

I also received much help from my two other regular sources of assistance, Tod Fletcher and Matthew Everett, each of whom improved both the text and the notes for the entire manuscript with suggestions and discoveries of various sorts. I also received help of this nature from Daniel Athearn and attorney James Gourley, whose critiques of several chapters enabled me to improve them significantly.

With regard to scientific issues, I received much help from David Chandler, Niels Harrit, Steven Jones, Kevin Ryan, and John Wyndham. Special thanks are due to Frank Greening, who assisted my efforts in spite of not agreeing with this book's conclusions (except for its negative conclusion that the NIST report on WTC 7 is false).

I also gratefully acknowledge assistance of various types from Dylan Avery, Ron Brookman, Richard Gage, Crockett Grabbe, Colman Jones, Graeme MacQueen, Alan Miller, Aidan Monaghan, Susan Peabody, Edward Rynearson, and Chris Sarns.

Finally, I wish to thank publisher Michel Moushabeck, editor Pamela Thompson, and all the others at Olive Branch Press (of Interlink Books), which has played a major role in making public the truth about 9/11. Special thanks are due to Hilary Plum, who handled the editing for this book.
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Re: The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the

Postby admin » Tue Jul 03, 2018 12:44 am

Frequently Cited Works

Interim Report on WTC 7, NIST, June 2004 ( report/june04/appendixl.pdf).

NIST NCSTAR 1-8, The Emergency Response Operations, by J. Randall Lawson and Roberr L. Vettori, September 2005 ( NCSTAR1/PDF/NCSTAR %201-8.pdf).

NIST NCSTAR 1A, Final Report of the Collapse of World Trade Center Building 7, Draft for Public Comment, August 2008. ( media/NIST _NCSTAR_1A_for_public_comment.pdf). This is the brief version of NIST's Draft Report, being 77 pages long.

NIST NCSTAR 1A, Final Report on the Collapse of World Trade Center Building 7, Final Report, November 2008 ( PDF/NCSTAR%201A.pdf). This is the brief version of NIST's Final Report, being 87 pages long.

NIST NCSTAR 1-9, Structural Fire Response and Probable Collapse Sequence of World Trade Center Building 7, Draft for Public Comment, August 2008. This is the long version of NIST's Draft, consisting of two volumes. Volume 1 ( _Vol1_ for_public_comment.pdf) contains pages 1-360; Volume 2 ( media/NIST_NCSTAR_19_vol2_for_public_comment.pdf) contains pages 361-719. (Because the pagination is continuous, the citations give only page numbers without distinguishing between volumes.)

NIST NCSTAR 1-9, Structural Fire Response and Probable Collapse Sequence of World Trade Center Building 7, November 2008. This is the long version of NIST's Final Reporr on WTC 7, consisting of two volumes. Volume 1 ( contains pages 1-360; Volume 2 (wtc.nist.govl NCSTAR1/PDF/NCSTAR%201-9%20Vol%202.pdf) contains pages 361-729. (Because the pagination is continuous, the citations give only page numbers without distinguishing between volumes.)

Shyam Sunder, "Opening Statement," NIST Press Briefing, August 21, 2008 (

"WTC 7 Technical Briefing," NIST, August 26, 2008 ( eventRegistration/EventLobbyServlet?target=lobby.jsp&eventid=1181 45).
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Re: The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the

Postby admin » Tue Jul 03, 2018 12:45 am


There are two main theories as to who was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. According to the theory put forth by the Bush-Cheney administration (and it is merely a theory, because no proof has ever been provided [1]), the attacks were planned and carried out solely by al-Qaeda terrorists under the authorization of Osama bin Laden. The alternative theory, espoused by members of what has come to be known as "the 9/11 truth movement," holds that the attacks were orchestrated by officials of the Bush-Cheney administration itself.

According to members of the 9/11 truth movement, the attacks were a "false-flag" operation, in which evidence is planted to implicate the groups or countries the actual perpetrators wish to attack. In this particular case, the Bush-Cheney administration had already decided, months before 9/11, to attack Muslim countries in the Middle East, most immediately Afghanistan and Iraq. [2] In planning and carrying out the 9/11 attacks, the perpetrators planted evidence to implicate Middle Eastern Muslims -- evidence that, when examined, can easily be seen to have been fabricated. [3]

The 9/11 truth movement holds that, when the official account of the attacks is subjected to critical scrutiny, it can be shown to be false. Many members in the movement believe this falsity to be most obvious in relation to the collapse of Building 7 of the World Trade Center, usually called "WTC 7." This collapse is, accordingly, often referred to as the official account's "Achilles' heel" or "smoking gun." [4]

WTC 7: The Official Account's Achilles' Heel & Central Mystery

According to the official account of 9/11, the Twin Towers -- WTC 1 and 2 -- came down because of the impacts of the airplanes and the ensuing jet-fuel fires. Even if that account makes no sense to increasing numbers of scientists, architects, and engineers, [5] it has had enough apparent plausibility to be convincing to a majority of the US population.

But WTC 7 also collapsed that day, and it was not hit by a plane. It seemed, therefore, that it had been brought down by fire alone -- a fact that would have made its collapse an unprecedented occurrence. As New York Times writer James Glanz wrote a couple of months after 9/11: "[E]xperts said no building like it, a modern, steel-reinforced high-rise, had ever collapsed because of an uncontrolled fire." Glanz also quoted a structural engineer as saying: "[W]ithin the structural engineering community, [WTC 7] is considered to be much more important to understand [than the Twin Towers]," because engineers had no answer to the question, "why did 7 come down?" [6]

This question did, to be sure, have a possible answer: that WTC 7 was brought down with pre-placed explosives in the procedure known as "controlled demolition." This is the only way in which steel-framed high-rise buildings had previously been caused to collapse. From a purely scientific perspective, therefore, the most likely explanation for the collapse of WTC 7 would have been that it, too, had been brought down by explosives. [7]

Public discussion of the destruction of the World Trade Center, however, occurred in a political -- not a scientific -- context. America had just been attacked, it was almost universally believed, by foreign terrorists who had hijacked planes and flown them into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. Publicly interpreting this as an act of war, the Bush administration had launched a "war on terror," purportedly in response to the attacks. Because the idea that one of the WTC buildings had been brought down by explosives would have implied that the attacks were not a surprise, this idea could not be entertained by many minds in private, let alone in public. Even less could it be suggested in the mass media (at least after the day of 9/11 itself, on which a few reporters did suggest that the buildings had been brought down with explosives [8]).

And so the collapse of WTC 7 was classified as a "mystery" -- to the extent that it entered into the public consciousness at all. But this was not much. Although WTC 7 was a 47-story building and hence in most places would have been the tallest building in the city or even the state, it was dwarfed by the 110-story Twin Towers. It was also dwarfed by them in the ensuing media coverage. And so, James Glanz wrote, the collapse of WTC 7 was "a mystery that. .. would probably have captured the attention of the city and the world," if the Twin Towers had not also come down. [9] As it was, however, there was little discussion of this mystery.

Indeed, it almost seemed as if the authorities did not want the public to think about WTC 7. Although television viewers repeatedly saw the Twin Towers being hit by planes and then coming down, footage of the collapse of WTC 7 was seldom if ever seen on mainstream television after 9/11 itself And when The 9/11 Commission Report appeared in 2004, it did not, amazingly enough, even mention the fact that this third building had collapsed. Although the 9/11 truth movement, in response, increased its efforts to publicize the collapse of WTC 7, a Zogby poll in May 2006 found that 43 percent of the American people were still unaware that WTC 7 had collapsed. [10]

If the authorities did deliberately try to keep the public from thinking about WTC 7 by focusing its attention on the Twin Towers, there would have been good reason for this. Besides the fact that WTC 7 had not been hit by a plane and did not have large fires spread by jet fuel, its collapse as seen on videos looks, compared with that of the Twin Towers, much more like the kind of controlled demolition known as implosion, in which the collapse starts from the bottom and then the building comes down into its own footprint, ending up as a rather compact pile of debris. The videos also show that WTC 7 came down in virtual free fall -- which would normally be possible only if all of its support columns had been removed by explosives.

Accordingly, when people who know something about these matters see a video of the collapse of WTC 7, they almost immediately conclude that it must have been brought down by explosives. For example, Daniel Hofnung, an engineer in Paris, wrote:

In the years after 9/11 events, I thought that all I read in professional reviews and French newspapers was true. The first time I understood that it was impossible was when I saw a film about the collapse of WTC7. [11]

Likewise, Chester Gearhart, who before his retirement was a civil engineer for Kansas City, Missouri, said:

I have watched the construction of many large buildings and also have personally witnessed 5 controlled demolitions in Kansas City. When I saw the towers fall on 9/11, I knew something was wrong and my first instinct was that it was impossible. When I saw building 7 fall, I knew it was a CD [controlled demolition]. [12]

Another example is provided by chemist Niels Harrit of the University of Copenhagen, whose paper on nanothermite in the World Trade Center dust will be discussed in Chapter 4. When he was asked how he became involved with these issues, he replied:

It all started when I saw the collapse of Building 7, the third skyscraper. It collapsed seven hours after the Twin Towers. And there were only two airplanes. When you see a 47-storey building, 186 meters tall, collapse in 6.5 seconds, and you are a scientist, you think "What?" I had to watch it again... and again. I hit the button ten times, and my jaw dropped lower and lower. Firstly, I had never heard of that building before. And there was no visible reason why it should collapse in that way, straight down, in 6.5 seconds. I have had no rest since that day. [13]

Still another example is provided by Danny Jowenko, the owner of a controlled demolition company in the Netherlands, who also had not known that WTC 7 had collapsed. Upon being asked in 2006 to comment on a video of this collapse without being told what it was, he immediately said that it was obviously a controlled demolition. [14] When asked later, after he had had time to study the matter, whether he stood by his initial response, he replied: "Absolutely." [15]

When Jowenko and others declare that WTC 7 was obviously brought down with explosives, they base this conclusion not merely on the fact that, prior to 9/11, no steel-framed high-rise had ever collapsed from any cause other than controlled demolition. They also base it on the fact that, as mentioned above, the collapse of WTC 7 has many features in common with collapses produced by the type of controlled demolition known as implosion.

To enumerate seven of the most obvious features of this similarity: (1) The collapse of WTC 7 started from the bottom; (2) the onset of the collapse was sudden (not gradual, as it would have been if -- impossibly -- it had been brought on by fire heating the steel); [16] (3) the building came down totally, leaving none of its steel columns erect and intact; (4) it came straight down, symmetrically; (5) it came down in free fall, or very close to it (suggesting that the steel columns supporting the building had been removed); (6) much of the building's concrete was pulverized into tiny particles, resulting in a huge dust cloud; and (7) most of the debris ended up in a relatively small, compact pile. (These similarities are emphasized in a video called "This is an Orange." [17])

For most people who know anything about steel-framed buildings, the idea that WTC 7 could have come down in this man net without the aid of explosives is completely implausible. Accordingly, if they are not already skeptical of the official account of 9/11, they become so when they become aware of the collapse of this building -- as illustrated by the above-quoted statements by Daniel Hofnung, Chester Gearhart, Niels Harrit, and Danny Jowenko. This is why the 9/11 truth movement has thought of WTC 7 as the official account's Achilles' heel.

A positive correlation between 9/11 skepticism and WTC 7 awareness was suggested by the aforementioned Zogby poll, which showed that the number of Americans who were unaware of the collapse of WTC 7 (43 percent) was roughly the same as those who believed that a new investigation of the 9/11 attacks was unnecessary (47 percent). In thinking of the collapse of WTC 7 as the Achilles' heel of the official account, therefore, the 9/11 truth movement has believed that, as the facts about this collapse become more widespread, so will skepticism about the official position, according to which no explosives were used.

The difficulty of providing an explanation of WTC 7's collapse without mentioning explosives was illustrated by the first official report on the destruction of the World Trade Center, which was put out in 2002 by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). As a federal agency and hence an agency of the Bush-Cheney administration, FEMA had to provide an explanation that did not involve the use of explosives. It was unable, however, to find a plausible explanation of this type.

The solution settled on by the authors of the FEMA report was to provide a possible explanation and then to distance themselves from it. That is, they first provided an imaginative scenario, in which burning debris from the collapse of WTC 1 (the North Tower) might have produced -- by igniting the "diesel fuel on the premises," which "contained massive potential energy" -- a raging inferno in WTC 7 that, after burning for seven hours, brought the building down. But these authors then quickly added a caveat, saying that this scenario -- which was their "best hypothesis" as to why the building collapsed -- had "only a low probability of occurrence." [18]

This admission of defeat increased the conviction within the 9/11 truth movement that the collapse of WTC 7 was indeed the official story's Achilles' heel -- the part of the official story that, by being most vulnerable to critique, could be used to bring down the whole body of lies.

NIST Takes on the Mystery

By the time the FEMA report appeared, in any case, the assignment of coming up with the definitive explanation of the collapse of the Twin Towers and WTC 7 had been given to the National Institute of Standards and Technology -- which will henceforth be referred to simply as NIST. A plan for its "study of WTC Buildings 1 and 2 ('The Twin Towers') and WTC Building 7" was formulated by NIST between October 2001 and August 2002. NIST then filed progress reports on its WTC investigation in December 2002 and May 2003.19 In June 2004, it published an Interim Report on WTC 720 But after that report appeared (according to an account given by NIST in 2006),

the NIST investigation team stopped working on WTC 7 and was assigned full-time through the fall of 2005 to complete the investigation of the WTC towers. With the release and dissemination of the report on the WTC towers in October 2005, the investigation of the WTC 7 collapse resumed. [21]

In April 2005, however, NIST released another preliminary report on WTC 7. [22]

This history is important because, when NIST issued its final WTC 7 report in 2008, as we will see later, it claimed -- in response to the charge that it had deliberately delayed publication of its report, perhaps because of orders from the Bush administration -- that it had worked on it only since 2005 and hence for only three years. In reality, however, it had worked on it for almost six years.

In any case, although NIST's theory as to what caused WTC 7's collapse changed over the years, one element remained constant: the denial that the building was brought down by explosives. As the preliminary report of April 2005 put it: "NIST has seen no evidence that the collapse of WTC 7 was caused by ... controlled demolition." [23]

How, then, did NIST intend to explain the building's collapse? Between June 2004 (when it published its Interim Report on WTC 7) and August 2008 (when it put out a tentative version of its final report as a Draft for Public Comment), NIST suggested that its argument would be that WTC 7 collapsed because of damage of two types: damage caused by the fires and damage caused by debris from the collapse of the North Tower (which was considerably closer than the South Tower).

Popular Mechanics Interprets NIST's Work

As to why the fires were hot enough and long-lasting enough to cause significant structural damage, NIST was during that period carrying forward the suggestion, made earlier by the FEMA report, that the fires were fed by the building's diesel fuel. An article about 9/11 in the March 2005 issue of Popular Mechanics magazine, which strongly supported the official account of9/11, said (with reference to NIST):

Investigators believe the fire was fed by tanks of diesel fuel that many tenants used to run emergency generators. Most tanks throughout the building were fairly small, but a generator on the fifth floor was connected to a large tank in the basement via a pressurized line. [24]

Popular Mechanics then quoted NIST's lead investigator, Shyam Sunder, as saying: "Our current working hypothesis is that this pressurized line was supplying fuel [to the fire] for a long period of time." [25] In a slightly revised and expanded version of its article issued as a book in 2006, Popular Mechanics repeated this point, saying that "long-burning fires" may have been supplied by fuel tanks in the building "for up to seven hours." [26]

Whereas this appeal to the diesel fuel repeated FEMA's hypothesis, NIST introduced a novel element by suggesting, in the words of the Popular Mechanics book, that "WTC 7 was far more compromised by falling debris than the FEMA report indicated." In describing this damage, Popular Mechanics quoted Shyam Sunder as saying: "On about a third of the face to the center and to the bottom -- approximately 10 stories -- about 25 percent of the depth of the building was scooped out." Given this discovery, Popular Mechanics claimed, critics could no longer cast doubt on the official explanation by pointing out that "there were no other examples of large fire-protected steel buildings falling because of fire alone." [27]

This allegedly massive damage to WTC 7 caused by debris was treated by Popular Mechanics as parallel to the damage to the Twin Towers caused by the airplane impacts, as shown by the following statement:

The conclusions reached by [hundreds of experts from academic and private industry, as well as the government] have been consistent: A combination of physical damage from the airplane crashes -- or, in the case of WTC 7, from falling debris -- and prolonged exposure to the resulting fires ultimately destroyed the structural integrity of all three buildings. [28]

Although in 2006, when this statement was published, this view was simply NIST's "working hypothesis," Popular Mechanics rashly treated it as one of the "conclusions" reached by "hundreds of experts."

Popular Mechanics was even ready to announce that NIST's working hypothesis, which involved both debris-induced damage and long-burning fires fed by diesel fuel, had solved the mystery of WTC 7's collapse. Although this collapse had been "initially puzzling to investigators," Popular Mechanics told the public in 2006, these investigators "now believe the building failed from a combination of long-burning fires in its interior and damage caused from the North Tower's collapse." [29]

Popular Mechanics was treating this working hypothesis as settled fact even though, it admitted, NIST had not decided how the two elements in this hypothesis were related. "Sunder says," Popular Mechanics wrote, that "NIST has not determined whether [the fires or the damage from debris] was the primary instigator of the collapse." [30] While admitting that this rather important question had not been settled, Popular Mechanics claimed that NIST was, nevertheless, in position to rule out the possibility that explosives contributed to the collapse, saying:

[T]he NIST report is definitive on this account. The preliminary report states flatly: "NIST has seen no evidence that the collapse of WTC 7 was caused by... controlled demolition." [31]

The fact that Popular Mechanics could treat a preliminary report as definitive suggests that it was guided by a rather strong will to believe.

NIST's 2008 Solution to the Mystery

NIST itself, in any case, was evidently not so certain during that period that it had solved the mystery of WTC 7. When asked early in 2006 why this building had collapsed, Sunder replied: "[T]ruthfully, I don't really know. We've had trouble getting a handle on building No. 7." [32]

The fact that NIST's statements during this period should not have been treated as definitive was demonstrated in 2008 when NIST issued its final report on WTC 7 (with the Draft for Public Comment being issued in August and the Final Report in November). [33] In this report, NIST no longer affirms the two elements that, according to Popular Mechanics, had provided a satisfactory solution to the mystery of WTC 7's collapse. That is, (1) NIST no longer claims that the diesel fuel in WTC 7 explained why the fires burned so long, saying instead that "fuel oil fires did not playa role in the collapse of WTC 7." [34] And (2) NIST no longer claims that the collapse of WTC 7 was significantly caused by damage inflicted on it by North Tower debris, saying instead: "Other than initiating the fires in WTC 7, the damage from the debris from WTC 1 had little effect on initiating the collapse of WTC 7." [35]

The second of these two reversals means that, contrary to what Popular Mechanics had said in its 2006 book, NIST does make the claim that a steel-framed high-rise building had, for the first time in history, been brought down by fire alone.

This reversal also undermines an essential element in Popular Mechanics' argument against the idea that WTC 7 was brought down with explosives. In a 2006 BBC documentary entitled The Conspiracy Files:9/11, Davin Coburn, a research editor for Popular Mechanics, was asked about the fact that the collapse of WTC 7 "does look exactly like a controlled demolition." He replied:

I understand why people may think that..., but when you learn the facts about the way the building was built and about the way in which it supported itself and the damage that was done by the collapsing towers that preceded it, the idea that it was demolition simply holds no water. [36]

Now that NIST has said that debris from the collapsing towers did not playa role in the collapse of WTC 7, it would seem that Popular Mechanics should reverse itself, saying that perhaps the controlled demolition theory does hold some water.

Such a complete reversal has not, however, been suggested by NIST itself: In spite of changing its position on some matters, it continues to insist in its final report that explosives played no role in the collapse of WTC 7. In fact, in his opening statement at the press conference on August 21, 2008 (at which NIST's final report on WTC 7 was unveiled as a Draft for Public Comment), Shyam Sunder seemed to suggest that this was NIST's most important finding about WTC 7. "Before I tell you what we found," he said, ''I'd like to tell you what we did not find. We did not find any evidence that explosives were used to bring the building down." [37]

Besides appearing confident about this point, Sunder also seemed unjustifiably certain of the truth of NIST's new answer to the question of what did bring WTC 7 down. Declaring that "the reason for the collapse of World Trade Center 7 is no longer a mystery," [38] he assured his listeners that "science is really behind what we have said." He even added: "The obvious stares you in the face." [39]

In the remainder of this book, I will demonstrate that NIST's report on WTC 7, far from being supported by science, is an unscientific document, violating various principles of accepted scientific practice.

Part I provides reasons to consider NIST a political, rather than a scientific, agency; it discusses some basic principles of scientific method; and it shows that NIST has violated two of these principles: (1) that scientists should begin with the most likely hypothesis (in this case, controlled demolition), and (2) that scientists must take into account all the relevant evidence (in this case, all the evidence, both physical and testimonial, suggesting that WTC 7 was brought down by explosives).

Part II of the book examines NIST's alternative theory, according to which WTC 7 was brought down by ordinary building fires. I will show that it is a thoroughly unscientific theory, resting on a combination of observation-free speculation, implausible claims, fudged data, and even outright fabrications. In Chapter 10, I show that NIST, in the final (November) version of its 2008 report on WTC 7, even violates one of science's most fundamental principles: Explanations must not imply that miracles have occurred.

Readers of NIST's report on WTC 7 will indeed, as Shyam Sunder says, find the obvious staring them in the face -- except that "the obvious" is not the report's truth, as he suggested, but its falsity.

Terminological Notes

Explosive: The term "explosive" refers to any substance that, being energetically unstable, can produce explosive effects. In this book, however, the focus is on a particular class of explosives: those that can be used to cut steel or otherwise cause it suddenly to lose its weight-bearing strength. In fact, of these two capacities -- to produce explosive effects and to cause steel suddenly to fail -- the latter is primarily in view. This means, for example, that if a substance classified as an "incendiary," such as ordinary thermite, [40] is used to make a "shaped charge," it is here considered an explosive even if it does not produce some of the effects, such as loud noises and blast waves, generally associated with powerful explosions. (An explosive charge is a particular quantity of explosive material. A shaped charge is a "charge shaped so as to concentrate its explosive force in a particular direction." [41])

Final Report, final report:

NIST's use of "final report" in reference to its WTC 7 reports can be confusing. This term serves, in the first place, to distinguish the WTC 7 report that appeared in 2008 from NIST's preliminary reports, which appeared in earlier years. But this 2008 "final report" came in two versions: a draft report for public comment, which was issued in August, and then a (truly) final report, which was issued in November. Matters are further complicated by the fact that NIST, in both August and November, issued two versions of its final report: a brief version, which is titled Final Report on the Collapse of World Trade Center Building 1, and a long version, which -- although it is NIST's definitive final report on WTC 7 -- does not have the words "final report" in its title, instead being called Structural Fire Response and Probable Collapse Sequence of World Trade Center Building 7.

To avoid confusion, this book employs the following conventions: The lowercase title "final report" is used for NIST's final report on WTC 7, which was issued in 2008 (in both brief and long versions), in distinction from its preliminary reports, which were issued in earlier years. The uppercase title "Final Report" is used to designate the truly final version, which was released in November 2008, in distinction from the first version, which was released in August 2008 and is called the "Draft for Public Comment," or sometimes simply the "Draft Report" or the "Draft version." When there is no need to distinguish the Final Report from the Draft Report, the lowercase "final report" is used.
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Re: The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the

Postby admin » Tue Jul 03, 2018 12:47 am

PART ONE: NIST's Unscientific Rejection of the Most Likely Theory


This chapter provides introductory reasons to believe that NIST, while preparing its reports on the World Trade Center, was functioning as a political agency of the Bush-Cheney administration, rather than as a scientific agency. Before making this case, I discuss the fact that suspects in a crime are usually not put in charge of investigating that crime; I then point out that all of the official investigations of 9/ 11, including the NIST investigation, were carried out by representatives of the Bush-Cheney administration.

Suspects, Investigations, and 9/11

When a crime has been committed, both common sense and the law dictate that persons suspected of committing that crime should not be put in charge of the investigation. The two major suspects for having committed the 9/11 crimes are Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, on the one hand, and members of the Bush-Cheney administration, on the other. It obviously would have been outrageous if the task of investigating the 9/11 attacks had been assigned to representatives of bin Laden's al-Qaeda organization. And yet all official investigations have been carried out by representatives of the other chief suspect: the Bush-Cheney administration.

It might be thought that the official account of 9/11 is considered questionable by only a small number of people, mainly cranks, so that the fact that the investigations have been carried out by representatives of the Bush-Cheney administration does not constitute a serious problem.

However, the number of people who question the official account is significant. According to the 2006 Zogby poll mentioned earlier, less than half -- only 48 percent -- of the American public expressed confidence that the government and the 9/11 Commission had not engaged in a cover-up. [1] Another poll taken that year was even more revealing because it specifically asked people whether they believed 9/11 to have been, at least in part, an inside job. Citing the claim that "federal officials either participated in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon or took no action to stop them 'because they wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East,'" a Scripps Howard/Ohio University poll found that 36 percent of the public endorsed this claim. [2] A story in Time magazine commented: "Thirty-six percent adds up to a lot of people. This is not a fringe phenomenon. It is a mainstream political reality." [3]

Besides constituting a significant portion of the American population, people who reject the official account of9/11 constitute an even larger percentage of the population in other countries. Polling in seventeen countries during the summer of 2008, found that in eight of those countries, fewer than 50 percent of the citizens accepted the view that al-Qaeda was responsible for the attacks. These countries even included allies of America, such as Mexico, where only 33 percent of the people identified al-Qaeda as the guilty party, and Jordan, where a mere 11 percent did. Even in Great Britain, America's main ally in the post-9/11 "war on terror," only 57 percent said they believed al-Qaeda to have been behind the attacks. [4]

Among people who rejected the view that al-Qaeda was responsible, a significant percent opined that the attacks were arranged by the United States itself. This view was most widespread (among the seventeen countries polled) in two of America's allies, Turkey and Mexico, in which it was endorsed by 36 and 30 percent of the people, respectively. The figures for two more allies, Germany and South Korea, were 23 and 17 percent, respectively. In China, the United States was blamed by nine percent of the people. Although that is a lower percentage than in most countries, it translates into over 90 million Chinese. [5]

Those who believe that there is no good evidence against the official story about 9/11 may assume that it is rejected primarily by poorly educated people, so that the more education people have, the more likely they are to accept the official story. The poll found, however, that having less education did not make people significantly more likely to attribute the 9/11 attacks to al-Qaeda. [6]

Another widespread assumption is that the 9/11 truth movement -- defined here as consisting of all the people who have publicly expressed skepticism about the official story, at least to the point of saying that a new investigation is needed -- consists of "kooks" and "crackpots." But the falsity of this assumption is demonstrated by the existence and membership of various scholarly and professional organizations that have emerged. These organizations include Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, [7] Firefighters for 9/11 Truth, [8] Lawyers for 9/11 Truth, [9] Intelligence Officers for 9/11 Truth, [10] Medical Professionals for 9/11 Truth, [11] Pilots for 9/11 Truth, [12] Political Leaders for 9/11 Truth, [13] Religious Leaders for 9/11 Truth, [14] Scholars for 9/11 Truth, [15] Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Justice (which includes a large number of scientists), [16] Veterans for 9/11 Truth, [17] and S.P.I.N.E.: The Scientific Panel Investigating Nine-Eleven. [18] (To get an overview of well-known and well-credentialed people from various fields who have called for a new investigation, consult Patriots Question 9/11. [19])

As these polls and organizations show, large numbers of people in the United States and around the world -- many of whom are well educated and some of whom have professional expertise specifically relevant to evaluating the official account of 9/11 -- believe that the Bush-Cheney administration did not tell the truth about the attacks. A significant portion of these people believe that the attacks were, in fact, orchestrated or at least facilitated by members of that administration.

Given this context, no one can responsibly dismiss as irrelevant the fact that people who are suspected of facilitating, or at least of covering up, a crime are normally not allowed to run the investigation of that crime. Any investigation of 9/11 run by representatives of the Bush-Cheney administration must be considered illegitimate in principle (just as would any investigation run by al-Qaeda). And yet every official investigation of 9/11 thus far has been carried out under the direction of representatives of this administration. [20]

The FEMA-ASCE Report

The first investigation into the destruction of the World Trade Center, mentioned in the Introduction, was headed by FEMA, the full name of which -- the Federal Emergency Management Agency -- makes clear that it is an agency of the federal government. This means that in 2001 and 2002, when the report was being prepared, FEMA was an agency of the Bush-Cheney administration. FEMA's pathetically inadequate response to Hurricane Katrina made Americans painfully aware of the fact that the director of FEMA is appointed by, and serves at the pleasure of, the president.

The FEMA report was actually prepared by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). But the ASCE's work was carried out on behalf of, and under the limits imposed by, FEMA as well as other federal agencies. The seriousness of these limits was revealed when ASCE investigators told the House Committee on Science that they did not even have the authority "to impound pieces of steel for examination before they were recycled." [21] The magazine Fire Engineering wrote in 2002:

[T]he "official investigation" blessed by FEMA ... is a half-baked farce that may already have been commandeered by political forces whose primary interests, to put it mildly, lie far afield of full disclosure. Except for the marginal benefit obtained from a three-day, visual walk -- through of evidence sites conducted by ASCE investigation committee members -- described by one close source as a "tourist trip" -- no one's checking the evidence for anything. [22][/quote]

As these statements illustrate, no real investigation was allowed.

Moreover, even if the FEMA and ASCE personnel themselves, as thinking individuals, rejected the administration's claim -- according to which the airplane impacts and resulting fires sufficed to bring down all three buildings -- they could not have published a FEMA-ASCE report challenging that claim.

The 9/11 Commission

Although it was widely called an "independent" commission, the 9/11 Commission was, in reality, not at all independent from the Bush-Cheney White House.

This commission was run by its executive director, Philip Zelikow (not by its co-chairmen, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, and the other eight Commissioners we saw on television). The Commission's work was done by Zelikow and the 85 members of his staff, all of whom worked directly under him. This meant that, as New York Times reporter Philip Shenon wrote, none of the commissioners had "a staff member of their own, typical on these sorts of independent commissions." Zelikow thereby prevented "any of the commissioners from striking out on their own in the investigation." [23]

Besides directing the staff's work, telling them what to investigate (and hence what not to investigate), Zelikow was largely responsible for the Commission's final product, The 9/11 Commission Report. Moreover, Shenon reported, Zelikow had secretly outlined this book, and hence had determined its conclusions, in advance -- before the Commission's staff had even begun its work. [24]

Why is this important? Because Zelikow was essentially a member of the Bush White House. He was especially close to Condoleezza Rice: He had served with her in the National Security Council during the presidency of the senior George Bush; when the Republicans were out of power during the Clinton years, he co-authored a book with her; then, when Rice was appointed National Security Advisor to the second President Bush, she brought on Zelikow to help with the transition to the new National Security Council (after which Zelikow was appointed by Bush to the president's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board); finally, in 2002, when Rice had the responsibility of producing "The National Security Strategy of the United States of America" (NSS 2002), she turned this task over to Zelikow. [25]

This last fact is especially important, because NSS 2002 used the 9/11 attacks to justify a new doctrine of preemptive war, which was desired by Cheney and other hawks in the administration. In enunciating this new doctrine, the United States, using 9/11 as the justification, gave itself permission to attack other countries even if they posed no imminent threat. [26] This was a fateful document because, as Shenon pointed out, it was used to "justify a preemptive strike on Iraq." [27]

Given the possibility that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated or at least assisted by the Bush-Cheney administration -- in part to have a pretext to attack Afghanistan and Iraq -- the 9/11 Commission should have asked whether there was evidence to support this alternative account. (The alternative account of 9/11 had been widely explored on the internet and publicly rejected by the Bush administration, so it cannot be claimed that the Commission was not aware of it.) The Commission, therefore, should have been run by someone who was completely independent of this administration. Seen in this light, Philip Zelikow, who was essentially a member of this administration and had used 9/11 to develop a doctrine that was employed to justify the attack on Iraq, was one of the worst possible choices to direct the Commission. With him in charge, the White House, insofar as it was investigated, was investigated by itself, just as if the Commission had been run by Condoleezza Rice or Karl Rove -- two members of the Bush administration with whom Zelikow remained in touch, in spite of his promise to the contrary, while he was directing the Commission. [28]

That his directorship left the Commission without a shred of independence is made especially clear by the fact that Zelikow, in making assignments to the various teams into which the staff was organized, simply presupposed the truth of the Bush-Cheney administration's claim that 9/11 was orchestrated by al-Qaeda. Although Kean and Hamilton said that the Commission, unlike conspiracy theorists, started with the facts, not with a conclusion -- "we were not setting out to advocate one theory or interpretation of 9/11 versus another" [29] -- they admitted that Zelikow gave one of the teams the task of "tell[ing] the story of al Qaeda's most successful operation -- the 9/11 attacks." [30] There could be no clearer example of starting with a theory.

The staff assignments, we now know, were based on an outline of the Commission's final report that Zelikow had prepared in advance. This startling fact, mentioned by Kean and Hamilton, was revealed more fully by Philip Shenon, who reported that it was "a detailed outline, complete with 'chapter headings, subheadings, and sub-subheadings.''' Shenon also revealed that Kean and Hamilton conspired with Zelikow to conceal the existence of this outline -- for fear that the staff would regard this outline "as evidence that they -- and Zelikow -- had predetermined the report's outcome." [31]

How could they possibly have concluded anything else? In fact, when the staff did learn about this outline a year later, some of them began circulating a parody entitled "The Warren Commission Report -- Preemptive Outline." One of its chapter headings was: "Single Bullet: We Haven't Seen the Evidence Yet. But Really. We're Sure." [32] The point, of course, was that Zelikow's outline could have been entitled: "Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda: We Haven't Seen the Evidence Yet. But Really. We're Sure."

NIST: An Agency of the Bush-Cheney Administration

If both FEMA and the 9/11 Commission were controlled by representatives of the Bush-Cheney administration, what about NIST? It was, if anything, even worse.

The most obvious problem is simply the fact that NIST is an agency of the US Department of Commerce. During the years in which its reports on the Twin Towers and WTC 7 were produced, therefore, NIST was an agency of the Bush-Cheney administration. Accordingly, if the scientists working on NIST's report personally concluded that the buildings were brought down by explosives, the NIST reports themselves could not have said this, because to say this would be to imply that the attacks had been facilitated by insiders. Why? Because only insiders could have secured the access to the buildings that would have been required to plant the explosives.

As to how insiders could have gotten this access, the 9/11 truth movement has pointed out that Marvin Bush, one of the president's brothers, was a principal of Securacom, a company that provided security for the World Trade Center, and that Wirt Walker III, a cousin, was its CEO. [33]

In any case, given the fact that NIST was an agency of the Bush-Cheney administration while it was preparing its WTC reports, we must be alert to the possibility that its reports were at least partly political, and hence not purely scientific, in nature.

Bush Administration Distortions of Science:

This is especially the case in light of the Bush administration's record of forcing its agencies to distort science in order to advance the administration's agenda. In 2003, the minority staff of the House Committee on Government Reform published a document, "Politics and Science in the Bush Administration," which described "numerous instances where the Administration has manipulated the scientific process and distorted or suppressed scientific findings." [34] In 2004, the Union of Concerned Scientists published a document entitled Scientific Integrity in Policy Making: An Investigation into the Bush Administration's Misuse of Science. [35] It provided detailed documentation of charges that had been made in a briefer statement, "Restoring Scientific Integrity in Federal Policymaking," which accused the Bush administration of engaging in "distortion of scientific knowledge for partisan political ends." By the end of 2008, this statement had been signed by over 15,000 scientists, including 52 Nobel Laureates and 63 recipients of the National Medal of Science. [36]

One especially well-known and deadly example of scientific distortion ordered by the Bush-Cheney White House involved Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks. On September 14, 2001, the Boston Globe reported that scientists had determined that the air had "levels of asbestos up to four times the safe level, placing unprotected emergency workers at risk of disease." [37] On September 18, however, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a statement saying that the "air is safe to breathe," specifically assuring New Yorkers that the air did not contain "excessive levels of asbestos." [38]

Why did the EPA lie -- as Dr. Cate Jenkins, one of its scientists, later testified that it had? [39] EPA Inspector General Nikki Tinsley reported that pressure from the White House "convinced EPA to add reassuring statements and delete cautionary ones." Specifically, Tinsley said, statements were deleted about the potential harmful effects of airborne dust containing asbestos, lead, glass fibers and concrete. [40]

On the basis of the EPA's assurance, many of the Ground Zero workers did not take even minimal precautions -- let alone the extreme precautions that should have been mandatory, given the very toxic air. As a result, thousands of the workers -- reportedly 60 or 70 percent of them [41] -- now suffer from various debilitating illnesses, including cancer, which have already led to some deaths. A lawyer for victims has predicted that "[m]ore people will die post 9/11 from these illnesses, than died on 9/11." [42] These facts, which have been discussed in stories with titles such as "Death by Dust," "Dust and Disease," and "Dust to Dust," [43] have led one writer to refer to the aftereffects of the EPA's lie as "9/11's Second Round of Slaughter." [44]

If the White House would force the EPA to tell such a lie, even though this lie would endanger the lives of thousands of Ground Zero workers, would it not also, if it had arranged the controlled demolition of the Twin Towers and WTC 7, have made sure that NIST would issue reports covering up this fact? Given the record of the Bush-Cheney administration, one can reject this possibility out of hand only if one presupposes, circularly, that the White House was not complicit in the destruction of the WTC buildings.

Testimony from a Former NIST Employee:

The Bush-Cheney White House's record of distorting scientific facts for political purposes is, moreover, not the only basis for suspecting that NIST's WTC reports are political, rather than scientific, documents. We also have the testimony of a former NIST employee who had held "a supervisory scientist position at the top civil service grade" until 2001, after which he worked as a part-time contractor until 2006. [45] Although this man wishes to remain anonymous, for fear of possible retaliation, he is known to physicist Steven Jones, who has confirmed that he is indeed who he says he is. [46]

According to this former employee, NIST in recent years has been "fully hijacked from the scientific into the political realm." This politicization of NIST, he said, began in the mid-1990s, during the Clinton presidency, but had "only grown stronger to the present" (he made this statement in October 2007). As a result, he said, scientists working for NIST "lost [their] scientific independence, and became little more than 'hired guns.''' [47]

Speaking in particular about the implications of NIST's politicization for its work on 9/11-related issues, he wrote:

When I first heard ... how the NIST "scientists" involved in 9/11 seemed to act in very un-scientific ways, it was not at all surprising to me. By 2001, everyone in NIST leadership had been trained to pay close heed to political pressures. There was no chance that NIST people "investigating" the 9/11 situation could have been acting in the true spirit of scientific independence, nor could they have operated at all without careful consideration of political impact. Everything that came from the hired guns was by then routinely filtered through the front office, and assessed for political implications before release.

In addition to being examined by NIST's front office, he added, all of the documents produced by NIST's scientists were also scrutinized by "the HQ staff of the Department of Commerce" ("which scrutinized Out work very closely and frequently wouldn't permit us to release papers or give talks without changes to conform to their way of looking at things"), the National Security Agency, and the Office of Management and Budget -- which is "an arm of the Executive Office of the President" and "had a policy person specifically delegated to provide oversight on [NIST's] work." [48]

If everything produced by NIST about 9/11 had to be approved not only by the Bush-Cheney administration's Commerce Department but also by its (now notorious) National Security Agency and a "policy person" from the president's Office of Management and Budget, it would seem that the White House was very concerned about what NIST might report.

Philip Shenon reported that the 9/11 Commission had been a focus of Karl Rove's attention: Rove led the fight to prevent the formation of such a commission; after the 9/11 Commission was forced into existence by public pressure, he was involved in the selection of its chairman (Thomas Kean, who was contacted by Rove, said that he found this strange, wondering why "membership on the panel [had] been shopped around by Bush's political guru"); he then became the White House's "quarterback for dealing with the Commission"; and finally, Rove (as well as Rice) had continuing contact with Zelikow while the Commission was doing its work. [49]

The statement by the former NIST employee suggests that the White House was equally concerned with NIST.


In light of the above facts, we have strong reasons to suspect that NIST, while producing its reports on the Twin Towers and WTC 7, was functioning as a political, rather than a scientific, agency. NIST's lead investigator, Shyam Sunder, explicitly denied this, saying: "We conducted this study without bias, without interference from anyone, and dedicated ourselves to do the very best job possible." [50] Evidence that this description was far from the truth, however, is suggested not only by the former NIST employee's statement but also by NIST's reports themselves, which violate various principles of sound scientific methodology. In previous books, I have shown this to be true of NIST's report on the Twin Towers. [51] In the present book, I show that it is at least equally true of its report on WTC 7.

The next chapter discusses some of the principles of scientific method that are violated in NIST's WTC 7 report.
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Re: The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the

Postby admin » Tue Jul 03, 2018 12:48 am


President Barack Obama has promised that his administration will put an end to the Bush administration's policy of ignoring and distorting science to advance political ends. In his inaugural address, Obama said: "We will restore science to its rightful place." [1] Within the first 50 days of his presidency, he issued a memorandum aimed at insulating the federal government's scientific reports from political influence. [2] This policy implies that, if some federal agencies during the Bush administration issued reports on important topics in which good science was overridden by political considerations, those reports would need to be corrected.

The Introduction and Chapter 1 of this book have already provided reasons to suspect that one such report is the NIST report on WTC 7, because in writing it, NIST acted as a political rather than a scientific agency. The present chapter provides specific bases for confirming this suspicion by discussing principles of scientific method.

This chapter does not, however, provide a discussion of scientific method in general. It merely discusses some basic principles of scientific method that, the scientific community agrees, should not be violated. There is, moreover, no attempt here to provide an exhaustive list of such principles. The focus is much narrower, dealing only with principles of this type that are violated by NIST's report on WTC 7.

If the authors of this NIST report violated these principles deliberately, they were guilty of scientific fraud.


At one time, most people may have assumed that scientists, being devoted to the disinterested pursuit of truth, were seldom if ever tempted to engage in fraud. Several decades ago, however, we learned that scientists hired by tobacco companies had deliberately obscured the evidence that smoking causes cancer. More recently, as mentioned in the Introduction, we have become aware that scientists working for the Bush administration were willing to distort scientific data to support the administration's political agenda.

It may be supposed, however, that these were exceptions -- that for the most part, scientists do not engage in fraud. Unfortunately, the evidence does not support this optimistic assumption. A recent story in the International Herald Tribune was titled "Scientific Fraud: There's More of It Than You Think." It began:

A wide-ranging study of the incidence of scientific fraud in the United States has just been published, and the results are alarming: Scientists resort to fraud more commonly than we think. [3]

Within the scientific world, the fact of scientific fraud has been the subject of some book-length studies. In 1985, for example, William Broad and Nicholas Wade published a book titled Betrayers of the Truth: Fraud and Deceit in the Halls of Science. [4] In 2004, Horace Freeland Judson published The Great Betrayal: Fraud in Science. [5]

In discussing the nature of scientific fraud, we can distinguish between fraud in the strict sense and fraud in a broader sense. Scientific fraud in the broad sense occurs when scientists, in order to make their case, violate any of the basic principles of scientific method. Scientific fraud in the strict sense is constituted by those violations that have been explicitly identified as "fraud" by the scientific community. After discussing the principles that are violated by scientific fraud in this strict sense, I will discuss some additional principles, the violation of which constitutes fraud in the broader sense.

A document entitled "What is Research Misconduct?" which was issued by the inspector general of the National Science Foundation (NSF), says: "Research Misconduct is defined as fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results." This document then defines these three types of misconduct thus:

Fabrication is making up results and recording or reporting them. Falsification is manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes or changing or omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record. Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person's ideas, processes, results or words without giving appropriate credit. [6]

These three types of "scientific misconduct" are identical with the three types of "scientific fraud" identified in Judson's book. We can say, therefore, that fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism constitute scientific fraud in the strict sense.

In an examination of NIST's WTC 7 report, the third type of fraud -- plagiarism -- is not relevant. Our focus will, therefore, be on the first two types: fabrication and falsification.

Scientific fraud in the strict sense is considered very serious. The above-quoted document of the National Science Foundation urges anyone aware of scientific fraud to contact the NSF's inspector general; it even supplies an anonymous hotline. [7]

The importance of exposing fraud has been explained by eminent biologist Richard Lewontin in his review of Judson's book. While acknowledging that scientists might disagree about many things, he declared:

[E]very scientist must agree that outright fraud is beyond the pale. Putting aside the issue of morality, scientific investigation would be destroyed as a useful human endeavor and scientists would lose any claim on social resources if deliberate falsifications were not exposed. So scientists must be on the alert, ready to detect lies arising from within their institution. [8]

The present book shows that the NIST report on WTC 7 should be exposed by the scientific community for committing scientific fraud in the strict sense.


Various principles relevant to fraud in the broad sense will be discussed in the next section. The present section deals with three principles that, if violated by NIST, would make it guilty of fraud in the strict sense.

Evidence Should Not Be Fabricated

Richard Lewontin, in his review of Judson's book, wrote: "Fabrication is the creation of claimed observations and facts out of whole cloth. These are just plain lies." By contrast, he said: "Falsification is the trimming and adjustment of the results of genuine experiments so that they come to be in agreement with a desired conclusion." [9] As this distinction shows, Lewontin and Judson were thinking primarily of experimental sciences.

In preparing its report on WTC 7, however, NIST did not perform physical experiments. It instead relied on computer-based simulations. Insofar as it did experiments, these were carried out on computers, with simulated fires, simulated steel beams, simulated shear studs, and so on. This entire procedure, in which NIST based its theory on computer-generated models, could have been used for almost unlimited fabrication. As architect Eric Douglas wrote with regard to NIST's 2005 report on the Twin Towers:

[A] fundamental problem with using computer simulation is the overwhelming temptation to manipulate the input data until one achieves the desired results. Thus, what appears to be a conclusion is actually a premise. We see NIST succumb to this temptation throughout its investigation. [10]

That NIST continued this practice in preparing its report on WTC 7 is illustrated by its admission, discussed below in Chapter 9, that in creating its models of the spread of fires on the various floors, "The observed fire activity gleaned from the photographs and videos was not a model input." [11]

Given the fact that, insofar as NIST performed experiments, these were carried out on computers, not with physical materials, it is difficult to draw a clear distinction between (mere) falsification and outright fabrication. As we will see, nevertheless, NIST does appear to be guilty of practices that would most accurately be classified as fabrication, given the definition provided by the National Science Foundation: "making up results and recording or reporting them." [12]

A common term for fabrication, which is used below in Chapter 10, is "dry labbing." Originally used to refer to the practice by scientists of reporting experiments that they had not actually performed in the laboratory, it is now used more broadly to refer to any type of fabrication.

Evidence Should Not Be Falsified

Falsification is, to repeat the NSF definition, "manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes or changing or omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record."

Although it is not always clear whether particular violations of scientific principles should be classified as falsifications or fabrications, we will see that NIST's report does contain several claims that clearly appear to be one or the other. These include claims, discussed in Chapters 8 and 9, involving the location and duration of fires, the temperatures reached by fires, and the temperatures reached by steel. They also include claims, discussed in Chapter 10, about thermal expansion, failed shear studs, missing shear studs, and column failures.

Relevant Evidence Should Not Be Ignored

Horace Judson defined falsification as "altering the data or tendentiously selecting what to report." [13] The second type of falsification mentioned in this definition -- "tendentiously selecting what to report" -- is echoed by the NSF definition quoted above, which includes "omitting data." This type of falsification is so important, especially in relation to NIST's report, that it deserves to be treated as a distinct principle: None of the relevant evidence should be ignored.

Some philosophers of science believe that "inference to the best explanation" lies at the heart of scientific methodology. [14] Although there are valid debates about whether this phrase describes the actual process of scientific investigation, there can be no denying that an investigation should aim to reach the best explanation.

What is the best explanation, from a strictly scientific or philosophical point of view? It is the one that best fulfills the criteria of self-consistency and adequacy. The scientific method can be summarized as rational empiricism. Its rational dimension is oriented around the goal of self-consistency, its empirical dimension around the goal of adequacy to all of the relevant facts. The best explanation for any phenomenon, then, is the one that, while being self-consistent, best explains or otherwise takes account of all of the relevant evidence.

Of these two criteria, it is the empirical criterion -- adequacy to all of the relevant evidence -- that is most often violated. Scientific explanations are not usually marred by instances of obvious inconsistency (although NIST's report on WTC 7 is thus marred, as Chapter 10 shows). Rather, scientists are often tempted to achieve self-consistency by simply ignoring part of the relevant evidence. "It is easy enough to find a [logically harmonious] theory," wryly observed philosopher of science Alfred North Whitehead, "provided that you are content to disregard half your evidence."

Although it is sometimes thought that science is an enterprise to which morality is irrelevant, this is not true, because a habit of ignoring evidence while producing purportedly scientific reports is a moral failing. "[T]he moral temper required for the pursuit of truth," Whitehead said, is "[a]n unflinching determination to take the whole evidence into account." [15]

We will see, especially in Chapters 4 and 5, that NIST repeatedly failed to manifest this moral temper.


Having discussed principles violated by scientific fraud in the strict sense, I next discuss several additional principles, the violation of which constitutes scientific fraud in a broader sense. If committed, these additional violations reveal that, although a report may claim to be scientific, it really is not. NIST clearly claimed the mantle of science for its WTC 7 report. As we saw in the Introduction, Shyam Sunder, NIST's lead investigator for this report, said: "science is really behind what we have said." [16] But if this report violates a number of commonly accepted principles of scientific method, it should not, even aside from the charge of fraud in the strict sense, be considered a scientific report. I turn now to some of those additional principles.

Extra-Scientific Considerations Should Not Be Allowed to Determine Conclusions

In saying that scientists' conclusions should not be determined by extra-scientific considerations, this principle is not saying that the practice of science should not be influenced by extra-scientific factors, because this would be unrealistic.

For example, Richard Lewontin observed, in his review of Judson's book, that scientists are sometimes led to commit fraud by "the drive for economic success, personal power, and the gratification of one's ego." Although these are clearly extra-scientific motives, they have also played a significant role in most scientific discoveries. Likewise, although aesthetic and religious considerations are generally considered extra-scientific, they have sometimes played positive roles in scientific breakthroughs.

Rather than insisting that extra-scientific considerations should not influence the work of scientists, this principle simply says that they should never be allowed to determine their conclusions. The dominant motive must be the intent to discover the truth about the subject being investigated.

For example, religious motives may have originally led a person to become a scientist and to do research on a particular topic. But the dominant motive underlying the research, if it is to be truly scientific, cannot be the intent to support a pre-existing religious belief. Some scientists may have this desire. But if their work is to be considered science rather than pseudo-science, they must follow the evidence where it leads, even if it ends up refuting the belief that they had hoped to support.

Likewise, scientific work may at times be influenced by political motives, as scientists may hope to support their own political party's policy on some medical or environmental issue. This is natural and may be fine. Bur if this motive leads them to ignore or distort evidence, then their work cannot be considered scientific.

An especially common extra-scientific motive is the desire of employees in a company to please their employers, if only to keep their jobs or be promoted. Such desires often reflect economic motives and concerns with social status. These motives are natural and may cause no problems, as the employees may please their employers by doing good work. But if their employers order them to doctor their data, so as to reach different conclusions than they would have reached on the basis of the undoctored data, then the desire to please their employers may lead them to commit scientific fraud.

The NIST report on WTC 7, as we will see, contains many reasons to conclude that its approach and conclusions were determined by extra-scientific considerations -- probably in the form of orders from above, based on political considerations, that were followed by scientists at NIST because they wanted to keep their jobs. The former NIST employee, in fact, said that at least some of his friends still working at NIST have been "unhappily and often unwillingly involved in some of the politicization." [17]

An Investigation Should Begin with the Most Likely Hypothesis

The attempt to find an explanation of some event necessarily begins with a hypothesis -- perhaps after an initial period of somewhat neutral, open-minded, gathering of data. Our second principle says that, if more than one explanation seems possible, scientists should begin with the most likely hypothesis.

In some situations, to be sure, no hypothesis stands out as clearly the most likely. (In some murder cases, for example, the immediately available facts do not point to some particular suspect.) In other situations, however, the facts available at the beginning of the investigation do suggest one hypothesis as much more likely than others. In these cases, the investigation should begin with this hypothesis. A more complete statement of the principle, therefore, would be: When there is a most likely explanation for some phenomenon, the investigation should begin with the hypothesis that this possible explanation is indeed the correct one.

Starting with such a hypothesis is not, however, the same as dogmatically presupposing its truth. Rather, having begun with this hypothesis, the investigators should then see if there is any evidence that disconfirms it. Indeed, the practice of referring to one's initial assumption as merely a "hypothesis" is a way of indicating that it is, for the time being, held tentatively.

But even though scientists should hold it tentatively, they should begin with the hypothesis that, at the time, seems the most likely explanation of the phenomenon in question. Doing otherwise would suggest that their work is being determined by some extra-scientific motive, rather than the simple desire to discover the truth.

As we will see in Chapter 3, although one possible explanation for the destruction of WTC 7 stood out from all others as easily the most likely one, NIST insisted on orienting its labors around a different hypothesis.

When Two or More Hypotheses Seem Equally Adequate, the Simplest One Should Be Preferred

In some cases, more than one explanation for some phenomenon might seem equally adequate. It is widely agreed among philosophers and scientists that, in such cases, the simplest explanation should be chosen. There is much disagreement, however, about how this principle should be interpreted.

This principle is often called "Occam's razor," after the fourteenth-century philosopher -- theologian William of Occam (or Ockham). One of his own formulations was the principle of economy: "It is futile to do with more things that which can be done with fewer." [18] Francis Heylighen, a present-day scientist at the University of Brussels, prefers to formulate Occam's razor as the principle that "one should not make more assumptions than the minimum needed." This principle, he adds, "admonishes us to choose from a set of otherwise equivalent models of a given phenomenon the simplest one." [19]

Arguably the most important and non-controversial interpretation of this principle would apply to explanations of complex events, in which there are several phenomena to explain. Let us assume that there are seven phenomena (A, B, C, D, E, F, G) and that they can be explained with equal adequacy in two different ways. The first way is to provide a hypothesis that, while explaining A, simultaneously explains B, C, D, E, F, and G. The second way is to provide one hypothesis to explain A, another hypothesis to explain B, another to explain C, and so on. Virtually all scientists would agree that, if both approaches are equally adequate for explaining all seven features of this complex event, then the first approach should be preferred. It would clearly exemplify Heylighen's stipulation that the simplest model be chosen. And it would fulfill the principle of economy, endorsed by Occam, interpreted to mean: It isfutile to explain with several hypothesesa complex occurrence that can be explained equally well with one hypothesis.

This principle, as we will see later, counts decisively in favor of the demolition hypothesis for the destruction of WTC 7.

Straw-Man Arguments Should Be Avoided

When scientists are less interested in a genuine search for truth than in defending a theory based on extra-scientific considerations, they often deal with arguments presented by critics of their position by attacking "straw-man arguments." That is, rather than answering the arguments actually made by the critics, they construct ones that can easily be defeated, attribute these arguments to the critics, and then demonstrate their falsity. This approach gives the appearance of responding to the critics' arguments while doing no such thing.

When scientists resort to this approach, it provides a good clue that they are not genuinely searching for the truth. If they were, they would use the fact that they could not answer their critics' arguments as a stimulus to revise their position to make it more adequate.

In Chapter 6, we will see that NIST uses straw-man arguments to claim that WTC 7 could not possibly have been brought down by explosives.

Prima Facie Implausible Claims Should Not Be Made without Good Reasons

Many scientific advances have often come from scientists who made claims that, at the time, seemed implausible to most of their fellow scientists. This was certainly the case, for example, with quantum theory. It is not, therefore, a basic principle of science that its practitioners should not make implausible claims. The basic principle is that they should not do so without good reason. The founders of quantum theory fulfilled this stipulation by, on the one hand, showing that the basic assumptions of Newtonian physics simply could not deal with the interactions occurring at the quantum level and, on the other hand, showing that their new theory, however weird it might seem, produces very accurate predictions.

Through these means, the founders of quantum theory convinced their peers that, although their claims were prima facie (on the surface) implausible, they were, upon deeper inspection, not really implausible after all. This development reflects the fact that "plausibility" is a subjective judgment, existing in the mind of the beholder. A more complete statement of the principle, therefore, would be: "Do not make prima facie implausible claims without good reasons."

This principle embodies a well-known dictum: "Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence." This dictum can be stated as a basic principle: Extraordinary claims should be supported by extraordinary evidence.

NIST, as we will see in Part II of this book, makes several extraordinary claims. Far from supporting them with extraordinary evidence, however, it provides very weak evidence.

As the example of quantum theory shows, moreover, providing good reasons for making an initially implausible claim may require more than simply providing strong evidence. The founders of quantum theory also showed that the hitherto accepted principles of physics could not handle the new data being discovered at the most elementary levels of nature. The extraordinary, initially implausible, claims were necessary to accommodate this new set of data.

NIST, however, does nothing analogous. Although NIST's theory that WTC 7 was brought down by fire requires it to make several implausible claims, it never gives a good -- that is, a scientific-reason why it rejected the explanatory principles that have successfully explained the collapses of all steel-framed high-rise buildings that have occurred both before and after September 11, 2001.

Some of the implausible claims made by NIST, moreover, involve violations of two more basic principles, which will be treated next.

Unprecedented Causes Should Not, Without Good Reasons, Be Posited to Explain Familiar Occurrences

Given the regularity of nature -- which is both assumed and continually confirmed by science -- we properly assume, unless there is extraordinary evidence to the contrary, that each instance of a familiar occurrence was produced by the same causal factors that brought about the previous instances. This expectation is expressed in a dictum: "Like effects imply like causes."

No better example can be supplied than the one at issue in this book. The rapid and complete collapse of steel-framed high-rise buildings has become a familiar occurrence, with dozens of instances, some of which have been shown on television. In each instance prior to and since September 11, 2001, the collapse was caused by explosives in the process known as controlled demolition. In the form of controlled demolition known as implosion, the building typically comes straight down with acceleration close to free fall. Without strong evidence to the contrary, therefore, scientists would naturally and properly presume that the Twin Towers and WTC 7, which came straight down in free fall or close to it, were brought down with explosives.

NIST claims, however, that these three collapses, in spite of their similarity to implosions, were produced by completely different causes. With regard to WTC 7 in particular, the unprecedented cause was said to be the thermal expansion of steel caused by fires in the building.

NIST has thereby provided a perfect example of a claim that is initially, or prima facie, implausible. NIST could have changed this prima facie implausible claim into a plausible one, only by (1) providing very strong evidence for its contention that explosives were not used and (2) providing a plausible alternative theory to account for WTC 7's straight-down, virtually free-fall, collapse. As we will see in Chapters 6 through 10, however, NIST failed on both counts.

Scientists Should Not Make Claims Implying That Laws of Nature Have Been Violated

The most implausible claims scientists can make, aside from those that involve self-contradictions, are those that imply that one or more of the fundamental laws of nature -- alternatively called laws of physics -- have been violated. An alleged violation of the laws of nature would be a miracle in the traditional sense of the term: an interruption of the normal laws of nature by a supernatural cause. It has become almost universally accepted in the scientific community that miracles, thus understood, do not happen. This principle is even accepted by many theologians. [20]

However, in spite of the fact that this principle is widely accepted, some scientists -- like some philosophers and theologians -- are occasionally tempted, when they encounter difficulties in providing an explanation for some phenomenon, to violate it. This fact is lampooned in a well-known cartoon showing a physicist using a chalkboard to provide a technical explanation. After filling the board with a string of formulae, he wrote at the bottom: "then a miracle happens." [21] The temptation to resort to this solution when no naturalistic explanation seems possible is illustrated by the fact that a well-known philosopher, after referring to this cartoon approvingly, himself implicitly affirmed a miracle in trying to explain the emergence of mind out of matter. [22]

It is perhaps no surprise that NIST succumbed to this temptation, as we will see in Chapter 10. Having developed a theory of WTC 7's collapse that did not allow for the building to enter into free fall, NIST denied in its Draft Report of August 2008 that WTC 7 had done so. But after evidence to the contrary was publicly presented, NIST admitted in its Final Report, issued in November, that the building had entered into free fall for over two seconds -- even though NIST's theory, by denying that explosives had been used to remove the steel columns, did not allow for free fall. NIST thereby implied that a miracle had happened.

Scientific Work Should Be Reviewed by Peers Before Being Published

It is accepted practice that, before scientific reports are published, they should be reviewed by fellow scientists who are "peers" in the sense of sharing competence in the subject at hand. Whether the reports are intended to be published as books or as journal articles, editors will typically send them to two or three other scientists who have agreed to be reviewers. If these reviewers indicate that the reports contain serious problems, the editors will hold up publication until the authors have responded satisfactorily to the criticisms.

Although the peer-review process works only imperfectly, [23] it is far better than nothing. Scientists tempted to fabricate, ignore, or otherwise falsify evidence will be less likely to do so if they know that independent experts will be reviewing their work. They will also be more likely to avoid the other unscientific practices discussed above, such as dismissing the most likely hypotheses, attacking straw-man arguments, making implausible claims without good reasons, attributing common occurrences to unprecedented causes, and implying that laws of nature have been broken.

NIST's WTC 7 report was not, however, submitted to a peer-review process. NIST did, as we will see, invite the general public, and thereby fellow scientists, to offer "comments" on it. But there was no neutral adjudicator to require NIST to respond in a responsible way to the criticisms it received. And, as we will see, NIST for the most part simply ignored these critiques -- thereby failing to show even pro forma respect for the standard review process of the scientific community. Having flagged in this chapter a number of principles of scientific method, I will in the following chapters show that NIST violated them, thereby suggesting that it was operating as a political rather than a scientific agency.
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Re: The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the

Postby admin » Tue Jul 03, 2018 2:13 am


In Chapter 1, we saw that there were good reasons to suspect that NIST would not follow the basic formal principle of scientific method discussed in Chapter 2, namely: Extra-scientific considerations should not be allowed to determine conclusions. We saw reasons to suspect, in particular, that NIST was functioning as a political (not a scientific) agency. As such, its first concern would not have been to determine the probable truth. Although NIST had to create a report that would appear sufficiently plausible to satisfy the press and the general public, its first priority would have been to produce a report that would be acceptable from the perspective of the Bush-Cheney administration.

If NIST did indeed allow political considerations to determine its conclusions, this would explain why NIST also violated the principle that any scientific attempt to determine the cause of some event should begin with the most likely hypothesis.

The Most Likely Hypothesis

As we saw in the Introduction, the most likely hypothesis, as NIST began its investigation of the collapse of WTC 7, would have been that it was brought down with explosives in the procedure known as controlled demolition.

To repeat the two most obvious reasons to consider this the most likely hypothesis: First, all previous collapses of steel-framed high-rise buildings had been produced by controlled demolition. Prior to 9/11, no building of this type had ever collapsed without the aid of preplaced explosives. Second, the collapse of WTC 7 exemplified many of the signature features of the type of controlled demolition known as implosion.

This second point was ignored by Shyam Sunder, NIST's lead investigator, when at the press conference to unveil NIST's report on WTC 7 he said:

[W]e knew from the beginning of our study that understanding what happened to Building 7 on 9/11 would be difficult. It did not fit any textbook description that you could readily point to and say, yes, that's why the building failed. [1]

Sunder's statement was false. As pointed out in the Introduction, the collapse of this building exemplified seven features of a textbook description of a controlled implosion. To repeat:

(1) The collapse started from the bottom.

(2) The onset of the collapse was sudden.

(3) The collapse was total.

(4) The building came straight down.

(5) Its acceleration approximated that of a free-falling object.

(6) Most of its concrete was pulverized into tiny particles, resulting in a huge dust cloud.

(7) The building ended up as a relatively small pile of debris. [2]

In fact, insofar as there is a "textbook" that the NIST investigation should have followed, it is the Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations put out by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). This NFPA manual says that investigators should look for evidence of explosives whenever there is "high-order damage," which is defined thus:

High-order damage is characterized by shattering of the structure, producing small, pulverized debris. Walls, roofs, and structural members are splintered or shattered, with the building completely demolished. Debris is thrown great distances, possibly hundreds of feet. [3]

The first two sentences in this description apply fully to the destruction of WTC 7. Although the third sentence, which speaks of debris being thrown great distances, does not, it definitely does apply to the destruction of the Twin Towers -- which NIST itself admits by claiming that debris from the collapse of the North Tower, which was several hundred feet away, damaged and started fires in WTC 7.

In any case, given the fact that the collapse of WTC 7 as well as that of the Twin Towers manifested many of the features mentioned in the NFPA manual as signs of "high-order damage," NIST was virtually mandated to begin its investigation by looking for evidence that explosives had been used.

Besides following from the fact that the collapse of WTC 7 exemplified many standard features of controlled implosions, including showing signs of "high-order damage," the conclusion that NIST should have begun its investigation by looking for evidence of explosives also follows from another principle discussed in Chapter 2: Investigators should avoid positing, without good reasons, unprecedented causes for familiar occurrences. This principle in turn follows from another, which is that like effects generally imply like causes.

Prior to 9/11, every total collapse of a steel-framed high-rise building had the same cause: explosives. But NIST asserted that the collapse of WTC 7 had an unprecedented cause, saying: "This was the first known instance of the total collapse of a tall building primarily due to fires." [4]

In a few cases, to be sure, the standard cause for a familiar event might be ruled out, so that it might be necessary to posit an unprecedented cause. This is why the principle in question states that scientists should avoid positing unprecedented causes without good reasons.

Did the collapse of WTC 7 present NIST with a phenomenon for which the standard cause was ruled out on scientific grounds? NIST claims that it did. Bur as we will see in Chapter 6, that is a bogus claim, which NIST is able to make only by violating another principle of scientific discussion: Straw-man arguments are to be avoided

NIST's Alternative to the Most Likely Hypothesis

When NIST began its investigation of the collapse of WTC 7, the most likely hypothesis would have been that it was caused by explosives of some sort. Indeed, as we just saw, NIST was virtually mandated by the NFPA manual to begin its investigation by looking for signs of explosives -- which is another way of saying that NIST should have begun by looking for evidence to confirm the hypothesis that the building had been deliberately imploded. And yet the NIST investigators adopted a different working hypothesis. NIST wrote:

The challenge was to determine if a fire-induced floor system failure could occur in WTC 7 under an ordinary building contents fire. [5]

Why would NIST have assumed that this was "the challenge"? Why would NIST, already knowing that buildings such as WTC 7 can be brought down with explosives -- and indeed that this is the only way in which such buildings had ever been caused to collapse -- have asked if a collapse caused by an ordinary building fire "could occur"? As physicist Steven Jones has written:

The likelihood of near-symmetrical collapse of WTC 7 due to random fires (the "official" theory) -- requiring as it does near-simultaneous failure of many support columns -- is infinitesimal. [6]

Whereas "infinitesimal probability" means virtually zero probability, a structural engineer, Kamal Obeid, has bluntly rated the probability to be, simply, zero. Pointing out that the perfectly vertical and hence symmetrical collapse of WTC 7 required all of its 82 steel columns to have failed simultaneously, Obeid stated that for this to have occurred without the use of explosives would have been an "impossibility." [7]

Why would NIST, rather than starting with the hypothesis of controlled demolition -- which virtually all scientists, architects, structural engineers, and controlled demolition experts around the world would have considered the most likely hypothesis -- have started with a hypothesis that most nongovernmental physicists, architects, and structural engineers would have considered extremely unlikely -- so unlikely that physicist John Wyndham called it "the least likely assumption"? [8]

Marshaling evidence to support such an unlikely hypothesis would indeed have been a "challenge." But why would NIST have taken on this difficult challenge instead of simply starting with the most likely hypothesis? This is one of the key questions that should be addressed to NIST about its report on WTC 7. And if NIST spokespersons would answer honestly (as they might do if put under oath), they would surely confess that NIST, as an agency of the Bush-Cheney administration, had to rule out the demolition hypothesis on political grounds. This was the conclusion reached by Wyndham, who wrote: "NIST's failure to seriously consider other causes besides fire for the building collapses strongly suggests government interference in a scientific process." [9]

Speaking as NIST's lead investigator, Shyam Sunder denied this charge in advance, saying: "We conducted our study with no preconceived notions about what happened." [10] That claim is simply not credible, however, given NIST's refusal to begin with the most likely hypothesis -- along with, as we will see in the next three chapters, NIST's systematic ignoring of all evidence pointing to controlled demolition as the explanation of WTC 7's collapse.

Sunder in effect denied that NIST allowed political considerations to overrule scientific principles, saying: "Our job was to come up with the best science." [11] A more honest statement would surely have been: Our job was to come up with the best science consistent with our being an agency of the Bush-Cheney administration.

Given that task, NIST's challenge was to find a seemingly plausible scenario through which WTC 7 might have come down without the assistance of explosives, and then to assert that, no evidence of explosives having been found, this scenario must describe why and how the building actually came down. NIST, however, could claim that no evidence of explosives was found only by ignoring a great amount of such evidence. I turn next to this issue.
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Re: The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the

Postby admin » Tue Jul 03, 2018 2:17 am

Part 1 of 2


As we saw in Chapter 2, one of the most important criteria for determining whether an investigation into some issue has been truly scientific is whether it reflects, in the words of Alfred North Whitehead, an "unflinching determination to take the whole evidence into account." Whitehead added that it is easy to find a theory that is logically harmonious, "provided that you are content to disregard half your evidence," but that such short cuts lead to "a merely illusory success."

It would be difficult to find a more apt description of NIST's report on WTC 7. Even if NIST's theory about the collapse of this building were logically harmonious and otherwise impeccable -- and we will see in Part II that it is not -- it would still be inadequate, because it simply ignores half of the relevant evidence. For this reason alone, any of NIST's apparent success in dealing with the mystery of WTC 7's collapse would be "merely illusory."

The ignored evidence points to explosives as the cause of the collapse of WTC 7. The evidence for explosives that NIST ignored consists of two general types, testimonial and physical. Whereas the next chapter will be devoted to testimonial evidence that explosives were used, the present chapter deals with physical evidence for this conclusion.


In the Introduction and Chapter 3, we saw seven features of the collapse of WTC 7 that are also common features of controlled implosions -- namely, that the collapse began at the bottom, started suddenly, was total, was vertical, occurred in virtual free fall, involved the pulverization of much of the concrete, and resulted in a relatively small pile of debris. These features, which can all be seen in videos of WTC 7's collapse, [1] are acknowledged by NIST. Bur there are two other features, which can also be seen on videos, that NIST does not acknowledge: apparent demolition squibs and windows that were blown out at the onset of the collapse.

Apparent Demolition Squibs

When explosives are used to implode a building, it is often possible to see sequences of horizontal puffs of smoke and pulverized material, known as "demolition squibs," coming out of various floors of the building before they collapse. Examples of implosions in which squibs are visible can be viewed on the internet. [2]

One of the types of physical evidence for the conclusion that WTC 7 was imploded is that such phenomena -- which Kevin Ryan suggests would best be described as "high velocity bursts of debris ejected from point-like sources" [3] -- are visible in videos of its collapse. Physicist Steven Jones, referring to some of these videos, [4] said in a 2006 essay: [5]

[H]orizontal puffs of smoke and debris, sometimes called "squibs," emerge from the upper floors of WTC 7, in regular sequence, just as the building starts to collapse. The upper floors have evidently not moved relative to one another yet, from what one can observe on the videos .... The official reports lack an explanation for these squibs.

Defenders of the official account typically try to claim that these high-velocity ejections of debris were simply caused by compression after the floors began to collapse. In its "Answers to Frequently Asked Questions" about the Twin Towers, published in 2006, NIST gave this explanation as to why the "puffs of smoke," as it called them, did not provide evidence of controlled demolition:

[T]he falling mass of the building compressed the air ahead of it -- much like the action of a piston-forcing smoke and debris our the windows as the stories below failed sequentially. [6]

However, this explanation for the apparent demolition squibs from the Twin Towers does not fit the descriptions given by several witnesses. For example, firefighter James Curran said: "I looked back and ... I heard like every floor went chu-chu-chu .... [E]verything was getting blown our of the floors before it actually collapsed." [7] If material was being blown out from floors before those floors collapsed, then the ejections cannot be explained as resulting from compressed air caused by the collapse.

Moreover, Ryan has pointed out, videos of the collapses of the Twin Towers show that bursts of debris ejected from point-like sources sometimes occurred on floors long before the collapse front reached them. Some of the bursts occurred "at levels twenty to thirty floors below a 'collapse' front." [8]

This same problem exists with regard to the bursts of debris ejected during the collapse of WTC 7. As Jones pointed out, the bursts coming from the upper floors of WTC 7 occurred at a time when "[t]he upper floors have evidently not moved relative to one another." [9] There are videos on the internet in which these squibs, moving up the building near the top, can be seen. [10]

The concluding sentence of Jones's 2006 essay -- "The official reports lack an explanation for these squibs" -- remains true today. NIST, in fact, did not even try to explain the apparent squibs coming out of WTC 7. A search of its long (729-page) report turns up not a single instance of the word "squib" or "puff." The issue is also not addressed in its "Questions and Answers about the NIST WTC 7 Investigation." [11] So, having given an obviously inadequate explanation of the squibs that appeared during the collapses of the Twin Towers, NIST simply ignored the squibs that are visible in videos of the collapse of WTC 7.

A Vertical Row of Blown-Out Windows

In 2008, a video of the collapse of WTC 7 appeared on the internet that evidently had not previously been available to the public. In this video, titled "New 911 Building 7 Collapse Clearly Shows Demolition," a vertical row of approximately eight windows, between (roughly) the 29th and 37th floors, can be seen being blown out as WTC 7 begins to collapse. [12] There would seem to be no way that NIST's theory of this building's collapse, to be discussed in Part II of this book, could explain these blown-out windows. It is not surprising, therefore, that NIST did not mention them.

The apparent demolition squibs and the blown-out windows were evidently part of the physical evidence that NIST was content to ignore in order to find a politically acceptable theory. But they were only a small part. There is much more.


The existence of molten metal -- which has usually been described as "molten steel" but may have actually been molten iron (which is a byproduct when thermite melts steel) -- was reported in the Ground Zero rubble by many credible witnesses.

Leslie Robertson, a member of the engineering firm that designed the Twin Towers, reportedly said during a speech in early October 2001: "As of 21 days after the attack, the fires were still burning and molten steel was still running." This statement was reported by James Williams, the president of the Structural Engineers Association of Utah. [13]

Two men in charge of the clean-up operation also reportedly spoke of molten steel in the rubble. Peter Tully, president of Tully Construction, said that he saw pools of "literally molten steel" at the site. Mark Loizeaux, president of Controlled Demolition, Inc., said that several weeks after 9/11, when the rubble was being removed, "hot spots of molten steel" were found "at the bottoms of the elevator shafts of the main towers, down seven [basement] levels." Loizeaux also reportedly said "that molten steel was also found at WTC 7." [14]

Firefighters at Ground Zero also reportedly spoke of having "encountered rivers of molten steel." [15] One of these firefighters was Captain Philip Ruvolo, who said: "You'd get down below and you'd see molten steel, molten steel, running down the channel rails, like you're in a foundry, like lava." [16] Joe O'Toole, a Bronx firefighter who worked on the rescue and clean-up efforts, reported that one beam lifted from deep below the surface "was dripping from the molten steel." [17]

Other people at the site reported that steel beams had become molten. Greg Fuchek, vice president of a company that supplied computer equipment employed to identify human remains, said: "[S]ometimes when a worker would pull a steel beam from the wreckage, the end of the beam would be dripping molten steel." [18] Tom Arterburn, writing in waste Age, reported that the New York Department of Sanitation removed "everything from molten steel beams to human remains." [19]

Health professionals who visited the site gave similar testimonies. One of these was Dr. Ronald Burger of the National Center for Environmental Health, who spoke of "[f]eeling the heat, seeing the molten steel." [20] Dr. Alison Geyh of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, who headed up a scientific team that went to the site shortly after 9/11 at the request of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, said: "Fires are still actively burning and the smoke is very intense. In some pockets now being uncovered they are finding molten steel." [21]

This body of testimony creates a problem for the official account, defended by NIST, according to which the only source of energy (beyond gravity) for bringing down the WTC buildings was fire (along with, in the case of the Twin Towers, the impact of the airplanes). Could the fires have melted steel?

Structural steel does not begin to melt until it reaches about 1,482°C (2,700°F). [22] NIST does not suggest that any of the steel in WTC 7 came anywhere close to this temperature. Its most extravagant claim is that some of the beams reached 675°C (1,250°F). [23] The fires, which would have been considerably hotter than the steel, would themselves not have been close to 1,482°C (2,700°F). NIST's most extravagant claim for fires, as we will see in Chapter 9, is that they reached 1,100°C (2,012°F) in some places.

If fires did not melt any steel in WTC 7, could the molten steel under WTC 7 have come from the Twin Towers, in which the fires had been fed by jet fuel? MIT's Thomas Eagar, who supports the official account of how the WTC buildings came down, says that the fires in the towers were "probably only about 1,200 or 1,300°F [648 or 704°C]." [24] For those fires to have heated any steel up even to that temperature, they would have had to have been very big and long-lasting fires, which they were not. NIST itself reported that it found "no evidence that any of [the steel in the Twin Towers] had reached temperatures above 600°C [1,100°F]." [25] NIST also explicitly stated that the fires in the towers could not have melted any steel. [26] In response to this situation, physicist Steven Jones wrote:

[NIST] admits that the fires were insufficient to melt steel beams. That admission raises the obvious question: Where, then, did the molten metal come from? [27]

NIST had three ways of responding to this question. Its first way was simply to dispute the claim that steel had melted. When John Gross, one of the authors of NIST's WTC reports, was asked about the molten steel, he challenged the questioner's "basic premise that there was a pool of molten steel," saying: "I know of absolutely no ... eyewitness who has said so." [28] As we have seen, however, many credible witnesses testified to its existence.

A second way in which NIST responded to the molten metal was to say that, if it did exist, it was probably produced in the rubble pile after the collapse. One of the questions raised in response to NIST's 2005 report on the Twin Towers was: "Why did the NIST investigation not consider reports of molten steel in the wreckage from the WTC towers?" NIST replied:

Under certain circumstances it is conceivable for some of the steel in the wreckage to have melted after the buildings collapsed. Any molten steel in the wreckage was more likely due to the high temperature resulting from long exposure to combustion within the pile than to short exposure to fires or explosions while the buildings were standing. [29]

But there are two problems with this response.

One problem is that this response is simply incredible. Structural steel does not begin to melt, as we saw, until it reaches almost 1,500°C (2,732°F). For a fire to heat steel up to that temperature, it would obviously have to be at least that hot. But a diffuse hydrocarbon fire, even if oxygen is abundant, could never get much above 1,000°C (l,832°F). NIST's answer, therefore, implausibly suggested that combustion in an oxygen-starved pile of rubbish could produce temperatures 500°C (almost 900°F) hotter than the world's hottest forest fire.

A second problem with this answer by NIST is that, as Steven Jones has pointed out, it is a purely speculative -- that is, unscientific -- answer. In the experimental sciences, a claim, to count as a scientific claim, must be supported either by experimental evidence or historical precedent. Jones wrote:

It would be interesting if underground fires could somehow produce molten steel, but then there should be historical examples of this effect, since there have been many large fires in numerous buildings. But no such examples have been found. It is not enough to argue hypothetically that fires could possibly cause all three pools of molten metal. One needs at least one previous example. [30]

NIST also could have carried out an experiment to find out whether steel could melt in such an environment. But it provides no evidence of having done so.

NIST's third response to the molten metal was to declare that, even if it existed, it was irrelevant. NIST wrote:

The condition of the steel in the wreckage of the WTC towers (i.e., whether it was in a molten state or not) was irrelevant to the investigation of the collapse since it does not provide any conclusive information on the condition of the steel when the WTC towers were standing. [31]

This answer, which NIST presumably meant to apply to WTC 7 as well the Twin Towers, is absurd. If molten steel -- or molten iron, a byproduct produced when steel is melted by certain substances, such as thermite -- was present in the rubble, it does provide some information on the condition of the steel when the buildings were still standing. It indicates that during the final moments of the buildings, some of their steel was melted.

As emphasized in Chapter 2, a purported explanation of some event cannot be considered adequate unless it takes into account all of the evidence related to that event. Philosopher of science James Fetzer, responding to NIST's claim that the molten metal was irrelevant to understanding the collapse, has written:

The presence of molten metal .. three, four, and five weeks later cannot be "irrelevant" to the NIST explanation of the "collapse," since it was an effect of that event. If the NIST cannot explain it, then the NIST's account is incomplete and fails to satisfy a fundamental requirement of scientific reasoning, known as the requirement of total evidence, which states scientific reasoning must be based upon all of the available relevant evidence. [32]

NIST's failure to do justice to the squibs, the blown-out windows, and the pools of molten metal would, by themselves, make its theory inadequate. But there are still more things that NIST ignores.


Three studies, which were surely known to the scientists at NIST, reported phenomena in the Ground Zero debris that could have been created only by extremely high temperatures.

The RJ Lee Report

In May 2004, the RJ Lee Group issued a report entitled "WTC Dust Signature" at the request of the Deutsche Bank, which had occupied the building at 130 Liberty Street, across from the South Tower. The occasion for this request by Deutsche Bank was its insurer's claim that most of the dust in the building was "either innocuous or, to the extent that it contained contamination, resulted from a pre-existing condition." The purpose of the RJ Lee study was to prove that the building was "pervasively contaminated with WTC Dust, unique to the WTC Event." [33] This study was not, therefore, aimed at determining the cause of the collapses. But it did report findings that bear on this question.

The RJ Lee report of May 2004 represented, incidentally, a revision of an earlier report, entitled "WTC Dust Signature Study: Composition and Morphology," dated December 2003. [34] Why the report was revised is not made clear, but there are some interesting differences between the two versions.

In order to prove the Deutsche Bank's contamination claim, the RJ Lee Group argued in its final report that the dust in the building had characteristics that resulted from "the collapse of the WTC Towers and the subsequent fires at the WTC site which collectively were unique events that produced unique dust." In a statement that explained its title, the RJ Lee report added: "The unique characteristics of this dust are collectively referred to as the WTC Dust Signature," which "differentiate[s] it from other building dust." [35]

The report then listed five main elements in this signature, one of which was: "Spherical iron and spherical or vesicular silicate particles that result from exposure to high temperature." [36] This statement, which implies (without explicitly stating) that iron had melted, is the only statement about the modification of iron by high temperature in the final version of the RJ Lee report.

The earlier version, by contrast, had contained much more about iron. It said: "Particles of materials that had been modified by exposure to high temperature, such as spherical particles of iron and silicates, are common in WTC Dust ... but are not common in 'normal' interior office dust." [37] This 2003 version of the report even pointed out that, whereas iron particles constitute only 0.04 percent of normal building dust, they constituted (a whopping) 5.87 percent of WTC dust. This earlier version also explicitly stated that iron and other metals were "melted during the WTC Event, producing spherical metallic particles." [38]

The word "melt" was completely absent, by contrast, from the 2004 version. Only scientifically informed readers would realize that the existence of spherical iron particles implied that iron had melted. Nevertheless, the final version of the RJ Lee report did indicate that the dust contained spherical iron and silicate particles, which had been produced by "high temperatures."

What caused these high temperatures? Making no suggestion that these high-temperature effects had been produced by explosives, the RJ Lee report instead said: "[T]he heat affected particles result from the fires that ensued following the WTC Event." [39] (The earlier report had similarly attributed the particles to "the fire that accompanied the WTC Event." [40])

This explanation, however, does not work. The existence of "spherical iron particles" means -- as the 2003 report had explicitly stated -- that iron had been melted. Iron does not melt until it reaches 1,538°C (2,800°F), [41] and the building fires, as we saw earlier, could not have heated iron anywhere close to that temperature.

The RJ Lee report, moreover, suggested that some substances must have been heated to still higher temperatures. Lead must have become hot enough to volatilize (boil) and hence to vaporize:

The presence of lead oxide on the surface of mineral wool indicate [sic] the existence of extremely high temperatures during the collapse which caused metallic lead to volatilize, oxidize, and finally condense on the surface of the mineral wool. [42]

Although the word "vaporize" was never used in the final version of the RJ Lee report, the 2003 version of this passage explicitly referred to temperatures "at which lead would have undergone vaporization." [43] For lead to boil and hence vaporize, it must be heated to 1,749°C (3,180°F). [44] As the report indicates, therefore, the temperatures must have been not merely high but extremely high. [45]

The purpose of the RJ Lee report, as stated before, was simply to prove that the Deutsche Bank building had been pervasively contaminated by dust from the destruction of the World Trade Center. For this purpose, the report merely needed to show that the dust in this building had a distinctive signature that identified it as WTC dust. There was no need for the report to explain the origin of all the ingredients in this signature. Insofar as the report did, nevertheless, suggest that all of the effects requiring high temperatures were caused by fire, it was inadequate, because phenomena such as melted iron and vaporized lead could not have been produced by fire.

In spite of this defect, however, the report was commendable from a scientific point of view, precisely because it reported phenomena that it was unable to explain.

NIST's treatment was not equally commendable. It dealt with the RJ Lee report's revelation -- that certain ingredients in the WTC dust had been produced by extremely high temperatures -- by simply ignoring it. From reading NIST's reports on the Twin Towers and WTC 7, one would never know about the remarkable findings of the RJ Lee Group's extensive study of the WTC dust.

The USGS Report

Another major report, "Particle Atlas of World Trade Center Dust," came our in 2005. Written by Heather Lowers and Gregory Meeker on behalf of the United States Geological Survey (USGS), it was intended to aid the "identification of WTC dust components."

For our present purposes, the most significant feature of this report was its statement that the WTC dust signature included "trace to minor amounts" of "metal or metal oxides" (which its methods could not clearly distinguish). It said, in particular: "The primary metal and metal-oxide phases in WTC dust are Fe-rich [iron-rich] and Zn-rich [zinc-rich] particles." [46] One must, however, wonder at its suggestion that there were at most "minor" amounts of iron-rich particles, given the statement by the 2003 version of the RJ Lee report that these particles constituted almost 6.0 percent of the WTC dust.

In any case, the existence of the iron-rich particles was even emphasized by the inclusion of micrographs for two of them, one of which was labeled "iron-rich sphere." [47]

How do these iron-rich spherical particles or "spherules," as they are sometimes called, come about? As indicated earlier, iron must be melted and then -- as explained by Steven Jones and several coauthors in an article to be discussed below -- "sprayed into the air so that surface tension draws the molten droplets into near-spherical shapes." [48]

This means that the USGS's report mentions the existence of particles in the dust that should not have been there, given the official explanation of the collapses (according to which they were produced by a combination of airplane impacts, fire, and gravitation, without the aid of explosives). And yet the USGS report, like the RJ Lee report, provides no explanation as to how those iron-rich spheres could have been created. But at least the USGS report, like the RJ Lee report, did mention these phenomena.

By contrast, just as NIST did not mention the RJ Lee report's findings, it also did not mention those of the USGS report, even though this report had been produced by another agency of the federal government (the USGS is an agency of the US Department of the Interior). NIST thereby avoided the need to explain how these iron-rich particles could have been created without explosives to produce the requisite temperature.

The failure of the NIST scientists to mention these iron-rich particles, it should be emphasized, was not based on ignorance of them. It was a simple refusal to mention them -- a refusal that could be defended only by a pretense not to understand a basic principle of scientific method. After the release of NIST's Draft report on WTC 7 in August 2008, a member of the 9/11 truth movement asked NIST about the iron-rich spheres. NIST replied with one sentence: "The NIST investigative team has not seen a coherent and credible hypothesis for how iron-rich spheres could be related to the collapse of WTC 7." [49] In giving this answer, the NIST scientists pretended not to understand that the scientific method works the other way around. Scientists cannot legitimately refuse to mention some phenomenon until they have found a "coherent and credible hypothesis" to account for it (and certainly not until they have found a politically acceptable hypothesis). The empirical dimension of scientific methodology demands that empirical data be reported, whether or not a hypothesis is currently on hand to explain them. To refuse to report the data is to commit scientific fraud.

The Report by the Steven Jones Group

NIST also ignored a third scientific report describing phenomena in the WTC dust that could have been produced only by extremely high temperatures. Entitled, in fact, "Extremely High Temperatures during the World Trade Center Destruction," this report, published by Steven Jones and seven other scientists early in 2008, pointed out the existence of particles in the dust that required even higher temperatures than those implied by the reports of the RJ Lee Group and the USGS.

Using their own samples of WTC dust, which had been collected on or shortly after 9/11 -- either right after the collapse of the WTC buildings or inside some buildings near the WTC site -- which means that the dust could not have been contaminated by clean-up operations at Ground Zero -- Jones and his colleagues ran their own tests. They reported finding "an abundance of tiny solidified droplets roughly spherical in shape (spherules)," which were primarily "iron-rich ... and silicates." As stated earlier, the formation of the iron-rich spherules would have required a temperature of 1,538°C (2,800°F). Silicates are compounds of silicon, oxygen, and a metal, which is often aluminum. The formation of aluminosilicate spherules, which were found in abundance, would have required a temperature of 1,450°C (2,652°F). [50]

The most remarkable feature of this study, however, was its discussion of another type of spherule reportedly found in the dust. Having used a FOIA request to obtain data from the USGS that was not mentioned in its "Particle Atlas of the World Trade Center Dust," Jones and his coauthors learned that "the USGS team had observed and studied a molybdenum-rich spherule." This fact is of special significance because molybdenum (Mo) is "known for its extremely high melting point," which is 2,623°C (4,753°F). [51]

Noting that the data about this molybdenum-rich spherule "were not previously released in the public USGS reports," Jones and his coauthors pointed out that this silence was evidently not due to lack of interest, because the number of images and graphs about this spherule in the unpublished material obtained by the FOIA request shows that "considerable study was performed on this Mo-rich spherule." They added: "No explanation of the high temperature needed to form the observed Mo-rich spherule is given in the USGS material (either published or obtained by FOIA action)." [52]

The material obtained through the FOIA request also contained no explanation as to why the USGS's published report did not mention the molybdenum. One might suspect that it was precisely because it is "known for its extremely high melting point." In any case, whatever be the explanation for this silence, the point at hand is that the molybdenum was also not mentioned by NIST, even though it could have obtained the information about its presence in the WTC dust from the article by the Jones group or directly from the USGS.

To summarize: Although NIST claimed that it knew of no evidence that explosives had been used, it ignored evidence, provided by three different sets of scientists, showing that the WTC dust contained particles that could have been created only by extremely high temperatures -- temperatures that could not have been produced by fire.


NIST also ignored evidence of extremely high temperatures published by a fourth set of scientists. Although the discussion of this report could have been included in the previous section, it is discussed separately for two reasons: first, this report introduces a new factor, the sulfidation of metal; and second, this report was published as an appendix to FEMA's WTC report, which was the predecessor to NIST's reports.

The New York Times on the "Deepest Mystery"

In light of Shyam Sunder's announcement that NIST had solved the mystery of the collapse of WTC 7, we would assume that its report would, at least, have explained a phenomenon that had been called the deepest mystery associated with this collapse. But it did not.

In a New York Times story published in February 2002, James Glanz and Eric Lipton wrote:

Perhaps the deepest mystery uncovered in the investigation involves extremely thin bits of steel collected ... from 7 World Trade Center .... The steel apparently melted away, but no fire in any of the buildings was believed to be hot enough to melt steel outright.

Glanz and Lipton's final sentence states the mystery: Although fire could not have melted steel, steel had melted. In suggesting a possible solution, Glanz and Lipton wrote:

A preliminary analysis of the steel at Worcester Polytechnic Institute using electron microscopes suggests that sulfur released during the fires -- no one knows from where -- may have combined with atoms in the steel to form compounds that melt at lower temperatures. [53]

As their statement mentions, sulfur can greatly lower the temperature at which Structural steel will melt, as Steven Jones points out. [54]

Far from providing a possible solution, however, this information simply deepened the mystery, for three reasons. First, NIST itself does not claim, as we saw earlier, that any of the steel in WTC 7 was heated even to 700°C, let alone to 1,000°C. So the fact that sulfur can lower steel's melting point to about 1,000°C does not explain why some of the building's steel had melted, if the official explanation, according to which fire brought the building down, is presupposed. Second, as Glanz and Lipton indicate, as long as that explanation is presupposed, the presence of the sulfur constitutes a second mystery. Third, even if the presence of sulfur could be explained, there would still be the mystery of how some of it, as they reported, "combined with atoms in the steel," because that could happen only at extremely high temperatures.

The WPI Report

In mentioning Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), Glanz and Lipton were alluding to the fact that three professors involved in that school's Fire Protection Engineering program -- Jonathan Barnett, Ronald R. Biederman, and Richard D. Sisson, Jr. -- had analyzed a section of steel from WTC 7 (as well as a section from one of the Twin Towers). [55] Their discoveries were then reported in an article by Joan Killough-Miller entitled "The 'Deep Mystery' of Melted Steel," which appeared in a WPI publication. [56]

This article brought out the implications of the professors' analysis even more fully than did the New York Times story. In a statement that is especially significant in light of NIST's conclusion that WTC 7 was caused to collapse by "an ordinary building contents fire," [57] this article said:

[S]teel -- which has a melting point of 2,800 degrees Fahrenheit -- may weaken and bend, but does not melt during an ordinary office fire. Yet metallurgical studies on WTC steel brought back to WPI reveal that a novel phenomenon -- called a eutectic reaction -- occurred at the surface, causing intergranular melting capable of turning a solid steel girder into Swiss cheese.... The New York Times called these findings "perhaps the deepest mystery uncovered in the investigation." The significance of the work on a sample from Building 7 and a structural column from one of the twin towers becomes apparent only when one sees these heavy chunks of damaged metal. A one-inch column has been reduced to half-inch thickness. Its edges -- which are curled like a paper scroll -- have been thinned to almost razor sharpness. Gaping holes -- some larger than a silver dollar -- let light shine through a formerly solid steel flange. This Swiss cheese appearance shocked all of the fire-wise professors, who expected to see distortion and bending -- but not holes. [58]

As this statement makes clear, the startling discovery was that something had melted the steel so as to reduce its thickness and even produce holes in it. The WPI professors, therefore, had pointed to another phenomenon indicating that effects had been produced in WTC 7 that could not have been produced by "an ordinary building contents fire."

Statements about Vaporized Steel Attributed to Professors Barnett and Astaneh-Asl

In an article that appeared in November 2001, Glanz reported that one of the WPI professors, Jonathan Barnett, said that fire "would not explain steel members in the debris pile that appear to have been partly evaporated in extraordinarily high temperatures." [59] If Glanz (who himself has a Ph.D. in physics) was correctly reporting Barnett's statement, so that Barnett had said that some steel had evaporated, then we would be talking about very high temperatures indeed, because the normal boiling point of structural steel -- apart from a reaction involving sulfur -- is roughly the same as that of iron, namely 2,861°C (5,182°F).

The claim that some steel had evaporated was also attributed to Abolhassan Astaneh-Asl, a professor of civil engineering at the University of California at Berkeley. Immediately after 9/11, he received a National Science Foundation grant to spend two weeks at Ground Zero studying steel from the buildings. One of his discoveries involved a horizontal I-beam from WTC 7. According to a New York Times story by Kenneth Change, Astaneh-Asl reported that "[p]arts of the flat top of the I, once five-eighths of an inch thick, had vaporized." [60]

If both of these professors meant that steel had literally evaporated or vaporized, then they were both implying that some steel in WTC 7 had reached its boiling point, which is a temperature -- 2,861°C (5,182° F) -- even higher than that needed to melt molybdenum. But even if the words "evaporated" and "vaporized" were used loosely, to mean only that the melting had caused some of the steel to disappear from view, these professors were reporting phenomena that NIST's fire theory could not come close to explaining.

The Barnett-Biederman-Sisson Appendix to the FEMA Report

Barnett and the other two WPI professors reported their discoveries in an essay entitled "Limited Metallurgical Examination," which was included as an appendix to FEMA's report on the WTC buildings. [61]

Two Mysteries: In the summary of their analysis of a piece of steel from WTC 7, Barnett, Biederman, and Sisson made the following statement:

1. The thinning of the steel occurred by a high-temperature corrosion due to a combination of oxidation and sulfidation.

2. Heating of the steel into a hot corrosive environment approaching 1,000°C (1,832°F) results in the formation of a eutectic mixture of iron, oxygen, and sulfur that liquefied the steel.

3. The sulfidation attack of steel grain boundaries accelerated the corrosion and erosion of the steel.

Having mentioned sulfidation in each of these three points, they then, under the heading "Suggestions for Further Research," added: "The severe corrosion and subsequent erosion of Samples 1 and 2 are a very unusual event. No clear explanation for the source of the sulfur has been identified." [62]

NIST, as we will see later, said that it did not bother to test for sulfur because its presence in the debris would mean nothing, as it could be explained by the fact that the wallboard of the WTC buildings was made of gypsum, which is calcium sulfate.

What the WPI professors reported, however, was not merely that there was sulfur in the debris. They reported that the steel had been sulfidized, which means that sulfur had entered into the intergranular structure of the steel (which Glanz and Lipton had indicated by saying that sulfur had "combined with atoms in the steel"). As chemist Kevin Ryan has said, the question NIST would need to answer is: "[H]ow did sulfates, from wallboard, tunnel into the intergranular microstructure of the steel and then form sulfides within?" [63] Physicist Steven Jones has added:

[I]f NIST claims that sulfur is present in the steel from gypsum, they should do an (easy) experiment to heat steel to about 1000°C in the presence of gypsum and then test whether sulfur has entered the steel.. .. [I]f they actually do scientific experiments like this, they will find that sulfur does nor enter steel under such circumstances. [64]

Once again, Jones pointed out that NIST, which claims that its conclusions are based on good science, should not have answered crucial questions by merely offering speculative hypotheses. Insofar as a hypothesis suggested by NIST was amenable to empirical testing, NIST needed, in order to claim the mantle of science, to perform the test.

Jones stated, moreover, that if NIST had performed the test, the result would have been negative. Niels Harrit, a chemist at the University of Copenhagen, has explained why this can be known in advance: Although gypsum contains sulfur, this is not elemental sulfur, which can react, but sulfur in the form of calcium sulfate, which cannot. [65]

We have seen, in any case, that the WPI professors were puzzled by two mysteries: the source of the sulfur in the steel and the intergranular melting caused by a "eutectic" reaction. [66]

The Thermate Solution:

There is a well-known possible answer for both mysteries, namely, thermate, which results when (elemental) sulfur is added to thermite. Steven Jones has written:

The thermate reaction proceeds rapidly and is in general faster than basic thermite in cutting through steel due to the presence of sulfur. (Elemental sulfur forms a low-melting-temperature eutectic with iron.) [67]

Besides providing an explanation for the eutectic reaction, thermate can also, Jones pointed out, explain the melting, oxidation, and sulfidation of the steel studied by the WPI professors:

When you put sulfur into thermite it makes the steel melt at a much lower temperature, so instead of melting at about 1,538°C [2,800°F] it melts at approximately 988°C [l ,820°F], and you get sulfidation and oxidation in the attacked steel. [68]

Although the WPI professors did not mention this possible explanation of the phenomena they reported, they did speak of the possibility that the corrosion and erosion "started prior to collapse and accelerated the weakening of the steel structure." In light of that possibility, moreover, they concluded: "A detailed study into the mechanisms of this phenomenon is needed." [69]

NIST's Response to the FEMA Appendix

Given the presence of this statement in an appendix to FEMA's WTC report, which came out in 2002, we would assume that NIST would have studied this phenomenon. This is especially the case in light of the fact that Arden Bement, who was the director of NIST when it took on the WTC project, said that NIST's projected report would address "all major recommendations contained in the [FEMA] report." [70]

That, however, would not be the case. NIST's report on WTC 7 -- like its earlier report on the Twin Towers -- did not even mention the discovery of the three WPI professors, which had been reported in the appendix to the FEMA report and elsewhere. It ignored, therefore, what the New York Times had called "perhaps the deepest mystery uncovered in the investigation."

In spite of this fact, Shyam Sunder, as we saw, declared that NIST had solved the mystery of the collapse of WTC 7.

NIST had said in its 2005 preliminary report on this building that it had "seen no evidence that the collapse of WTC 7 was caused by bombs or ... controlled demolition." [71] In its final report, it says: "NIST found no evidence of a blast or controlled demolition event." [72] In an alternative formulation, which evidently used "blast event" for any kind of explosion occurring as part of a controlled demolition, NIST said that it "found no evidence whose explanation required invocation of a blast event." [73]

The authors of the NIST report, however, clearly knew about the thinned and sulfidized steel reported in the FEMA report's appendix. They also surely knew about the report by Professor Astaneh-Asl, which had been discussed in a New York Times story. [74] They also knew, on the one hand, that fire could not have produced these phenomena and, on the other hand, that thermate, which is thermite to which sulfur has been added, could produce them. As Kevin Ryan has pointed out: "The thermite reaction, available in several useful variations for the purposes of cutting steel, can explain this thinning and sulfidation quite readily." [75] The NIST authors knew, therefore, that these phenomena provided prima facie evidence that explosives or steel-cutting incendiaries with sulfur, perhaps thermate, had gone off in WTC 7.

It would seem, therefore, that a more candid statement by these authors would have been: NIST, being an agency of the Bush-Cheney administration's Commerce Department, could not report any evidence whose explanation required invocation of a "controlled demolition event. " But these NIST authors were clearly not being paid to be candid.

NIST's Denial of Recovered WTC 1 Steel: Besides ignoring the startling discoveries of Professor Astaneh-Asl and the three WPI professors, NIST's reports even claimed that no recovered steel from WTC 7 existed to be studied. Its "Questions and Answers" document of August 2008 included the following question: "Why didn't the investigators look at actual steel samples from WTC 7?" In its answer, NIST wrote:

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. [76]

This statement was clearly intended to give the impression that no steel from WTC 7 had been recovered. NIST had even made this claim explicitly in a 2005 report. [77] In light of the experiments on pieces of WTC 7 steel reported by the four professors, how could we avoid concluding that this statement was simply a lie?

The falsity of NIST's claim was pointed out by a critic in one of the "Comments" posted at NIST's website in response to its Draft for Public Comment, issued in August 2008. Referring to NIST's 2005 report stating that no steel from WTC 7 was recovered, this critic, using the pseudonym "Skeptosis," wrote:

NIST seems to have made no effort to obtain or examine existing steel samples (such as the heavily corroded beam featured in FEMA 403, Appendix C) known to have come from WTC 7, choosing instead to estimate the properties of the steel "completely from the literature."

Being required by NIST's protocol to explain the reason for his comment and to provide a suggested revision of the passage, Skeptosis added these statements:

Reason for Comment: Surely the theoretical steel described in the literature would not show any signs of sulfidation and erosion (as were found on the actual steel recovered from WTC 7), ensuring that NIST would not be required to investigate or identify the cause of this bizarre phenomenon.

Suggestion for Revision: "While steel from WTC 7 was, in fact, recovered, NIST made no efforts to obtain or examine this steel. Despite the failures of previous examinations to determine the cause of the sulfidation and erosion of steel samples from WTC 7, NIST felt that an investigation into the potential causes of this deterioration could threaten the Institute's ability to arrive at a conclusion that would not implicate domestic saboteurs." [78]

Whether this letter made the NIST authors smile, I do not know. But it did not, in any case, lead them to revise their report.

Sunders Oral Acknowledgment of the Sulfidized Steel:

NIST's defenders cannot, incidentally, suggest that NIST may have failed to mention the sulfidized steel simply because it did not know about it. Besides the fact that this steel was mentioned in the appendix to the FEMA report on WTC 7, Shyam Sunder himself mentioned it during a "technical briefing" on WTC 7 that he gave on August 26, 2008, shortly after the release of NIST's Draft for Public Comment. In response to a question by attorney James Gourley as to whether NIST had tested "any WTC 7 debris for explosive or incendiary chemical residues," Sunder said:

With regard to the issue of the residue, there is reference often made to a piece of steel from Building 7 that is documented in the earlier FEMA report that deals with some kind of a residue that was found, sulfur-oriented residue. And in fact that was found by a professor who was then at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Professor Jonathan Barnett. But that piece of steel has been subsequently analyzed by Professor Barnett and by Professor Rick Sisson, who is also from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and they reported in a BBC interview that aired on July 6 [2008] [79] that there was no evidence that any of the residue in that. .. piece of steel had any relationship to an undue fire event in the building or any other kind of incendiary device in the building. [80]

This response raises five questions.

First, it reveals that NIST's lead investigator knew about this "piece of steel from Building 7," and yet NIST, besides not mentioning it in its Draft for Public Comment, which was released five days before this technical briefing, also did not mention it in its Final Report, which was issued three months later.

Second, NIST continued to claim in its public documents that no steel from WTC 7 had been recovered: In an updated version of its "Questions and Answers" document about WTC 7, which appeared in December 2008, NIST repeated the statement quoted above from the first version of this document, in which it had claimed that "the steel from WTC 7 could not be clearly identified" -- even though this was almost four months after Sunder's acknowledgment that he knew about at least one piece of steel recovered from WTC 7. [81] There can be no doubt, therefore, that NIST was guilty of scientific fraud by deliberately failing to report, and even denying the existence of, evidence that contradicted its theory.

Third, Sunder acknowledged knowing about this piece of steel only after two of the professors who had reported it -- Jonathan Barnett and Richard Sisson -- had stated on a BBC program about WTC 7 (to be discussed in the next chapter) that, in Sunder's paraphrase, "there was no evidence that any of the residue in that ... piece of steel had any relationship to an undue fire event in the building or any other kind of incendiary device in the building." Why had he not acknowledged it earlier, before he had a statement from them that could be used to suggest -- even if deceptively -- that it no longer posed a threat to NIST's theory? This is not how science is supposed to operate.

Fourth, the Barnett-Sisson-Sunder statement did not really lessen the threat to the official story posed by this piece of steel, which had been melted, oxidized, and sulfidized -- processes that would take extremely high temperatures. If these changes in the steel were not caused by fire (as everyone agrees) or some kind of "incendiary device" (such as one made of thermate) or by an explosive, then how were they brought about? Neither Barnett, Sisson, nor Sunder answered this question. For people who accept the official account of the destruction of the World Trade Center, this melted, oxidized, and sulfidized piece of steel still remains a deep mystery.

Fifth, given the fact that this piece of steel had been publicly acknowledged as a deep mystery, it clearly demanded a thorough investigation and discussion. And yet NIST's only public treatment of it consisted of Sunder's paraphrase of a statement made on a television show. If this is how the present staff at NIST believes that science should be done, then it would seem that a thorough housecleaning (among other things) is in order, if President Obama's commitment to good science is to be fulfilled.
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