It’s been a while since I’ve encountered a 9/11 twoofer. If you’re a newcomer to the topic, they’re people who believe 9/11 was an inside job. Beyond that agreement, there’s a lot of divergence among them. I’ve met twoofers who believe hypotheses from a “mundane” controlled demolition that secret agents somehow set up without being detected in continuously operated buildings all the way to the more transparently loony ideas like what I like to call “The R-9 Orbital Wave Cannon” because I had been playing R-Type Final around the time I was reading some twoofer threads and skeptical takedowns at the JREF Forums.
I wonder why I don’t hear from them these days. I wouldn’t be surprised if they moved to Birtherism or something like that, with all the crazy being hurled about in the mainstream media these days. Of course, I might have just been lucky.
While I’m on the topic, I might as well provide the general basis for my criticism of twoofers. The consensus hypothesis among non-twoofers goes something like this: the airplane collisions into the WTC towers did some initial damage, shook off the fire retardant material that was on the nearby supports, and the burning fuel heated those supports until the steel lost strength, causing the initial collapse. The floors attached to those supports broke off and fell down. The impact of that falling weight on lower floors was enough to break them off the support pillars, causing “pancaking” as they call it. The “squibs” twoofers are fond of generally seem pretty likely to me to be the result of the air between floors being compressed and blowing out dust though an exit point.
For the controlled demolition hypothesis, it strikes me as unnecessary as well as a logistical nightmare. The plane impacts were bad enough. Would they really need to devote so many resources to making absolutely sure the buildings would collapse? Real demolition crews typically have free run of the building they’re going to collapse, and it takes them quite a while to set up, sometimes months, which often includes partially cutting through support pillars while leaving the explosives to finish the job. And the twoofers expect us to believe government ninjas could do the same job without being detected, without having their explosives discovered while they remain waiting for the detonation signal. This isn’t Hollywood. Evil Overlords can’t do big things by force of will alone. It’s also generally harder to blow stuff up in real life than it is to produce fuel-air explosions in action movies. Add in the relative silence compared to known controlled demolitions with the lack of seismic data to back up the existence of demolition charges going off, and it’s a hard sell on me. Then you have to consider how to keep all those ninjas quiet because the more people who are in on a secret, the harder it is to keep.
And that’s the “sanest” twoofer hypothesis. Some modifications come in here and there, like thermite allegedly being used to burn through pillars. Thermite burns down, not horizontally. It’s also highly reactive, which, from my understanding, makes it a poor candidate for this hypothetical demolition method: If a stray spark doesn’t ignite it, it’ll still react with something and break down over time. I’ve also heard some mumbling something about a “super thermite” for military use with unknown potential that allegedly addresses shortcomings of the regular stuff. It’s been a while since my chemistry classes, but I doubt the military has something thermitey with that much more chemical energy in it.
Of course, there are plenty of transparently zany hypotheses out there. Holographic planes disguising missiles, even though there’s no such technology available. Believe me, if someone could make giant 3D projections, he’d have plenty of motivation to patent it and market it to the entertainment industry. Of course, hypotheses that dismiss the existence of the planes still have to explain what happened to the passengers.
Another zany one is the space laser I mentioned earlier. What science fiction doesn’t tell people is that lasers are tricky to weaponize. The longer the distance, the more dispersed the beam is going to be, simply because we can’t focus them perfectly. The power is also subject to the inverse square law: If you double the distance, you get one quarter the effect. Lasers also lose coherence when they travel through anything other than a vacuum: The reason you can see a laser beam in a dark room, especially if there’s smoke or fog, is because the light is getting scattered to the sides and some go into your eyes. Every photon redirected is one less photon that gets to deliver its energy to the target. Now imagine a laser beam in orbit. The amount of power it’d have to generate to overcome power lost over distance and the scattering effects of the atmosphere, and you’d need a really big generator, which means you’d need a lot of effort to put the thing up there, either a super massive rocket or an ongoing construction process. Killsats just don’t seem to be a viable technology to me except maybe against targets in space.
Of course, the absurdities involved in the hypotheses tends to be secondary to how they rationalize away criticism. One popular meme was the straw man that we skeptics just blindly trust the government about everything. Of course, in reality, the government plays very little in our decision-making process. We’re critical thinkers. Many of us have at least a general grasp of physics. We know that massive conspiracies like this are logistically untenable. We know that wild divergence of hypotheses is a sign that there’s no objective truth being measured to keep baseless speculation in check. The “official” story is simply more realistic, more internally consistent as far as I’ve seen, and it doesn’t require positing novel entities. I don’t trust the government, but I agree with their assessment in this case because there’s a broader consensus across many independent groups that can’t be easily manufactured in the information age. Criticisms from twoofers were broadly fallacious, ignorant of how science works in the real world, lacked evidential basis, and were otherwise fatally flawed. Put simply, if 9/11 was an inside job, I’d expect there’d be people doing a competent job of arguing their case. I’ve never met one.
Of course, I’m quite confident the government’s been hiding something. My opinion, however, is that they’re hiding instances of incompetence and hiding stuff simply because a lot of the organizations involved just have an ingrained culture of non-transparency. They hide stuff from the public because they’ve always hid stuff from the public. Simply citing how “spooky” and untrustworthy the government is isn’t going to convince me that they’re physically capable and competent to perform the alleged conspiracy.