Do You Believe the 9/11 Conspiracy Theories?
Commentary by Jim Walker
21 May 2006


Ever since I put up a link to Penn and Teller's video debunking the 9/11 Conspiracy Theories (see: That's Just STUPID... 9/11 Conspiracy Theories), I received many emails that chided me for doing so. Note that Penn & Teller represent comedic magicians who know how to deceive an audience for entertainment and they know how to spot con-artists who dishonestly deceive the public. Some of the best debunkers in history come from conjuror backgrounds (Houdini, and the Amazing Randi, for example).

Not only did these emails agree with the conspiracy theories but some of them felt angered by my refusal to see their side (I did see their side, I just didn't agree with it). This amazed me because I have yet to see a single 9/11 conspiracy theory that makes any sense (what have I missed?) Moreover, most of the inventors of these theories do not even agree with each other (always a red flag) and most of their claims do not even meet the requirement of common sense. How in the world could anyone not see the holes in their argument, I thought.

On second thought, I knew that beliefs can have such an overpowering affect on an individual that it can conceal important things like evidence, facts, and even reality. But these emails came from my people. Not necessarily nonbelievers, mind you, but liberals, freethinkers, and skeptics. Even the best of them can fall prey for scams, cons, illusions, frauds, and swindles. Of course, even I can fall (and have fallen) for some of them, at least temporarily until I received further information. But really! These 9/11 conspiracies? Think people, think!

Of course we should allow anyone to ask any questions and speculate but these conspiracy theorists do not do this honestly. They leave out evidence that contradicts their theories, present out-of-context eyewitness reports, twist their words, and many times make things up. This makes them scam-artists and not worthy of respect. They use inductive reasoning (you cannot prove anything by inductive reasoning alone) and unsubstantiated deductive premises to explain them. Like all con-artists, they throw in their theories amongst actual facts to make them look as if they agree with the facts (they don't).

Although I disagree with our present government leaders, along with most liberals, and I feel skeptical about their policies, that doesn't mean that just because we have evidence of their lying, subterfuges, and deceptions, that they would pull off a silly and insane plan to murder innocent Americans and destroy property. Consider that our government leaders failed to protect us and had ample warning of the attacks or, perhaps, even let the Muslim terrorists cause a new "Pearl Harbor" for nefarious political purposes. This would give them reason to conceal information without needing to resort to silly demolition, missile-attack theories. Surely this hypothesis, at least, gives a more likely reason for any alleged cover-up. But after examining these conspiracy theories, I kept asking myself, "Why don't these conspiracy theorists provide the evidence?"

For example, how could one not question the demolition theory of the WTC buildings? Think of all the people that would have to install explosives in every story of the buildings, lay miles of electrical detonation wires. It usually takes months for professional detonation crews to set up a large building for destruction and they also spend lots of time weakening structural columns with saws and torches. Imagine trying to hide all this among thousands of WTC employees, employers, security guards, maintenance engineers, cleaning crews, etc. It would take hundreds of Tom Cruse-like Mission Impossible experts to pull it off (which of course, represents fiction). Revealingly, none of the conspiracy inventors ever mentions these problems or provide scenarios of how the conspirators could pull it off without anyone finding out.

Then they present non sequitur arguments such as the 'melting point of steel problem.' They claim that steel melts at a higher temperature than the burning temperature of jet fuel, therefore the steel could not have melted. So what? Since when does steel have to melt before it fails? Haven't they ever heard of low temperature forging, steel mills, or seen how a metal worker can easily bend a red-hot steel bar with a hammer? Steel will lose about half its structural strength (depending on is carbon content) at around 500 degress C. And on and on it goes, each claim as silly as the next.

Add to this the thousands of conspirators required to rig the commercial airliners (or missiles, converted military cargo planes, or whatever), hiding or murdering the passengers, the people needed to make recordings that mimic the cell phone conversations of passengers, the conspirators who would have to drag out plane parts at the "crash" sites to make it look as if it appeared like an airliner crash instead of a missile, etc. And as Michael Shermer asks, "not one of the thousands of conspirators needed to pull all this off is a whistle-blower who would go on TV or write a tell-all book?" (see Fahrenheit 2777)  You mean that not one of these Americans would confess and feel ashamed by helping to killing their own? How extraordinary! As Carl Sagan taught us, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence," yet these conspiracy theorists don't even provide us with minimal requirements for good evidence.

This, of course, doesn't mean that a conspiracy didn't exist. But who would most likely do this? I have a hunch!. How about 20 or so Muslims who have the motive, the religion, the will, and the belief & faith powerful enough to drive them to commit suicide by hijacking 4 American airliners? This theory has the backing of lots of evidence, plus it proves far more simple and reasonable. Haven't these conspiracy theorists ever heard of Ockham's razor? Yet the conspiracy theorists ignore this very plausible theory for their far more complicated and unworkable hypothesis. The conspiracy theorists also ignore other more likely possibilities: did some of our government leaders ignore (through gross incompetence) the terrorists plan to hijack the airliners, or did they knowingly let the terrorists to pull off their attacks? We do have evidence for concealment of information, but not a shred of good evidence for Americans directly causing the attacks.

After searching the Internet for information, I felt even more surprised and dismayed at the extent of the growth of this conspiracy meme. In fact the deluge of web sites that agreed with these conspiracy theorists so far outnumbered those who felt skeptical that it proved difficult to find good information about what actually took place on 9/11. But the information does exist out there and it so well contradicts the conspirator theorists that anyone who believed them should feel ashamed of themselves.

I will provide you with a few websites that provide good information from skeptical researchers, professional structural engineers, scientists, witnesses, etc. instead of from high-school drop outs or unqualified people (who usually write these conspiracy theories).

Take for example the most touted 9/11 video called Loose Change, Second Edition. Some claim this as the "best damn 9-11 documentary out there." So if you don't have familiarity with the conspiracies, you might want to start out with this one. (click here to watch).

Fortunately someone wrote an excellent refutation of this video called "9-11 Loose Change Second Edition Viewer Guide."  Mark Roberts, the author of this exposition, simply blows away the conspiracy theories, one by one, argument by argument, line by line. I'd bet that Mark Roberts did far more research than all the conspiracy inventors combined. You can also download a Word doc file of this article from here (actually I found the Word files reads easier than the web page).

Michael B. Green also wrote a good one called "Loose Change" An analysis.

If you want to hear from professionally qualified engineers and even the very head structural engineer who designed the WTC, Leslie E. Robertson (do the conspiracy theorists actually think he would help destroy his own building?), this documentary video does a good job of providing a workable theory about how the WTC towers fell. See 9/11 - The Fall of the World Trade Center. Unfortunately you can only view this video through Real Player. You can also read the transcript here.

Some conspiracy theorists claim that newspapers did not include any Arab names in the passenger manifest lists. Therefore (don't you see?) no Arab could possibly have committed the terrorist acts. Shamefully the conspiracy theorists don't tell you that these newspapers printed partial lists, or that the newspapers did not include the terrorist names because they did not want to honor their names along with the innocent passengers (and because the purposes of printing them aimed at providing families and friends, information). Regardless, of these reasons, some newspapers did include some of the terrorist names such as the Boston Globe list (and here). Of course the conspiracy theorists don't want you to know about the evidence that contradicts their theories.

I implore you believers out there to do a little more research. It may not seem as much fun but you will benefit by your education and you won't look so foolish in the eyes of those who look back at you from the future. Think instead of believe!


"As for the [9/11 conspiracy] theories, I don't think they can be taken very seriously. I think they are based on a misunderstanding of the nature of evidence, and also failure to think through the issues clearly."

--Noam Chomsky (interview)

Further source material (read them!): This site provides a lot of information about the 9/11 conspiracy myths.

9/11: Debunking The Myths Popular Mechanics examines the evidence and consults the experts to refute the most persistent conspiracy theories of September 11.

9/11 conspiracy theories from Wikipedia Lots of source material and links.

Debunking 9/11 Conspiracy theories This site explodes the myths.

Loose Change (video) from Wikipedia More debunking on the Loose Change video.

Refuting the 9/11 Conspiracy Theories Many answers to questions about the conspiracies.

Evidence That A Boeing 757 Really Did Impact the Pentagon on 9/11 Includes photo evidence.

Urban Legends and Folklore: Hunt the Boeing!  More answers to the Pentagon hit.

Structural Steel and Steel Connectrions A pdf file that provides engineering data about the steel in the WTC towers.

Facts about 9/11. Not Fantasy. Includes WTC photos showing buckling steel columns minutes before collapse.

9/11 thermite conspiracy? I think not [video, 2 min.] A video that shows a reaction between plaster and aluminium (like thermite).

Now don't you feel ashamed for believing this nonsense? But for those who invented these theories without presenting the evidence and facts that contradict your theory, you have not only embarrassed yourselves but you dishonored those who died on 9/11. May you live in disgrace for the rest of your lives.

An E-prime document