Review of THE 9-11 Conspiracy Debate at MMU

wtc collapse

Controlled demolition? Er, no.

Last night saw THE Conpiracy Debate (their title, not mine) at the Manchester Metropolitan University.  Despite being billed as a general debate on conspiracy theories, it focused pretty much exclusively on the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001. The belligerents were the be-suited Steve from the 9/11 Truth group “We Are Change Manchester” (WAC) and Paul, otherwise known as the political cartoonist Polyp, represented the skeptics.

Opening the debate was Steve who (attempted to) take us through 6 discrepancies related to the collapse of the buildings, demonstrating his points with some youtube videos. His talk was beset with technical problems and difficult to follow, and in my opinion he didn’t come up with any arguments for controlled demolition that haven’t already been debunked. Free fall speed, explosions, buildings never being destroyed by fire and eye witness testimonies were all stuttered through quite nervously. For me though, the highlight was a video demonstration of the French demolition technique of Verinage, where the central floors of a building are weakened, prompting the top to collapse down onto it. The example given looked strikingly like the collapse of the twin towers. Although Steve used this as an argument for controlled demolition, it fits perfectly into the current explanation for why the buildings came down, which I will explain later.

So, whilst Steve’s approach was just a little unsure, Paul’s rebuttals were clearly thought out, calmly argued and convincingly delivered. I won’t go into the debunking arguments, as pretty much everything has already been debunked really well by RKOwens4 on youtube. Needless to say, the irrelevancies of certain arguments and the truther’s misunderstanding of various scientific principles were addressed.

Following a break for drinks at the bar, the debate moved on to Q and A. Unfortunately, we ended up hearing about 5 or 6 questions before the panellists were allowed to answer. This, coupled with time restrictions, meant that many of the questions weren’t addressed. However, the questions were varied and passionate from both sides, covering nit-picking of structural details, through to much larger questions about the role of 9/11 in wider global conspiracies.

At the end of the day, no-one was swayed either way by the debate (no surprises there) but the real winner was civility. There was no shouting, little heckling and absolutely no name calling. It showed me that while people may have contrasting and conflicting opinions, if we can all engage in calm, polite discussion we might get somewhere. I would class the debate as a success, althogh less questions and more answers would have been welcome.

Right, as I alluded to earlier, I’d like to explain how the towers came down. When the planes hit, they started massive fires. Those fires heated the steel trusses (the horizontal bars that hold up each floor). When a metal such as steel is heated, it expands, expanding most where there is least resistance. The support columns provided resistance against sideways expansion of the trusses, so the trusses expanded downwards. This caused them to pull on the columns, leading to visible “bowing” , which can clearly be seen in footage and photographs. Eventually, the pulling on the columns caused them to snap. When this happened, the towers effectively lost a floor, causing them to collapse in a verinage-style shown in the video above. I’ve taken the liberty of including one of RKOwens4’s videos which explains it better than I can:

In conclusion, I remain totally unconvinced by the 9/11 truthers. Worse than that, I think the 9/11 truth movement is nothing but a huge distraction from the real crimes of 9/11: the terrorism from the Islamic extremists, the gross incompetency of the Bush administration, and the use of the attacks to justify the retraction of civil liberties and the war in Iraq. If the truthers stopped trying to nit-pick tiny details to try and show the buildings came down with controlled demolitions, they could concentrate on the bigger picture. I await the thoughts of the truth movement in the comments.


  1. Martin (aka Chunkylimey)

    My only 2 complaints about the night was that it didn’t go into enough detail about what the actual conspiracy of 9/11 allegedly was. It was like obsessing about how someone got away with a trick; and not asking why they did it.

    Secondly the question collection process at the end meant that neither side (I felt the Truthers were not given a fair chance to answer questions and I actually wanted to hear their answers). One question one answer; move on to the next. Just seemed a bit muddled.

    I was mostly sad that people clearly passionate about their distrust of government were being so readily distracted by something they couldn’t prove to the majority; when easier and more genuinely convincing conspiracies (Blair & Bush lying about Iraq; Bankers bailout etc) were not getting their attention. Such a waste of energy.

    However judging by the massive turn out in London today for protest marches against the government; it seems that plenty of people do care enough to stand up and be counted. So not all bad.

  2. qty

    I too wish there was less obsessing about the detail of “how the towers came down” and more emphasis on motives for such a thing and restrictions on civil liberties. Frankly I could have watched Youtube myself at home and probably had a chance to understand it all much better too. I think talking about the post-9/11 world would have been much more fruitful and progressive.

  3. Aisha Ahmed

    For myself, I entered the evening, with a Skeptics perspective, however a genuine open-mind, & readiness to adapt my views, on the face of a strong enough argument, which could prove beyond reasonable doubt, the claims which the conspiracy theorists were making, that is the ‘controlled demolition’ of the Twin Towers.

    However it was a shame, for such a large claim, there appeared to be no support provided, at least none of a respectable amount of validity.

    Paul, elegantly speaking from the Skeptics perspective, delivered a genuine, well structured, logical and heavyweight debunk to the claims, and only strengthened my views, that there were no ‘controlled demolitions’ involved, in the collapse of the WTC’s.

    Great evening, could have listened for another couple of hours!

  4. “Those fires heated the steel trusses (the horizontal bars that hold up each floor). When a metal such as steel is heated, it expands, expanding most where there is least resistance.”

    This is a scenario bereft of any evidence or detail. First you have to tell me how hot did the fires heat the steel and did NIST experimentally verify that the trusses could have sagged that much(i.e 42 inches). NIST found that only 2% of the steel tested on the perimeter columns got over 250C(482F) and none of the core columns. Sometimes people confuse the temperatures of the fires with the temperatures of the steel. But it is the temperature of the steel that matters and there is no evidence of high temperatures.

    “When this happened, the towers effectively lost a floor, causing them to collapse in a verinage-style shown in the video above.”

    You are forgetting that there are 47 massive core columns and the inward bowing only occurred on the south side of the North Tower. For it to collapse in a verinage style all the remaining perimeter columns and core columns would have bad to break within fractions of a second. How did the core columns all break?

    The collapse of the North Tower looks nothing like a verinage style demolition. It looks like a building being demolished from the top-down. Yet, there is a way to falsify the official account of NIST and Bazant. If the collapse of the upper block really does impact and crush the lower block this can be observed when looking at the video of the collapse frame-by-frame. If the upper block does impact the lower block it must decelerate. This impact provides the necessary jolt or amplified load to damage the lower block. When observed there is no jolt or impact and the upper block constantly accelerates at roughly two-thirds the acceleration of gravity.

    Verinage demolitions use natural forces after removing the columns of a couple of stories with hydraulic rams and that every single Verinage demolition which has been measured shows a definitive significant deceleration when the upper part impacts the lower part.

    There is no deceleration when the upper block descends. This can be accomplished by demolition charges removing the supporting structure however.

    Can you or anyone else provide any experimental data to verify any aspect of the official story?

    • Tom

      Unfortunately due to obvious logistical difficulties, it’s very tough to exactly replicate what happened to the twin towers. How does a truther explain the bowing?

  5. “Unfortunately due to obvious logistical difficulties, it’s very tough to exactly replicate what happened to the twin towers.”

    It would be somewhat difficult, but the government could do it if they wanted. It would be a lot less costly than this phony war of terrorism we’ve been fighting for the last 10 years. Besides, NIST could merely attempt to experimentally verify the pre-cursors to collapse. They did not even do that.

    A better question is how does someone supporting the official theory explain the inward bowing. The official explanation for “collapse initiation” is the inward bowing of the perimeter columns due to the catenary action of the sagging floor trusses. NIST has the trusses sagging some 42 inches in their model. How do they get that? Physical tests showed that the trusses would have only sagged by a few inches. Never fear, NIST has a computer model they can use to “show us what really happened.”

    And there is a basic contradiction in their scenario. To get the trusses to sag that much they needed to have nine of every ten disconnected from the perimeter. This would cause an extreme overload in the remaining trusses. But this would only leave a few trusses to bow the perimeter columns inward. Still this would not get the amount of inward bowing observed in the photographs. So they added artificial lateral loads of 5 kip(1 Kip = 1,000lbs) to each perimeter column to get the desired amount of inward bowing.

    So if most of the trusses stayed connected they could not have sagged as much as NIST attempted to show. If most were disconnected there would not be enough force to pull the columns inward.

    “How does a truther explain the bowing?”

    The outer core columns were attacked and weakened first. As the core fell, they pulled on the perimeter columns through the floor trusses. This is what caused the inward bowing.

  6. Johannes

    A few points.

    0:55 Fire-proofing was blown off – Where is the evidence?
    1:02 % columns damaged – Where is the evidence ?
    1:09 Piled up debris – Where is the evidence ?
    1:20 Temp. “Simulation” – What is this ?
    1:30 Worst of fires burned at 1800F – Evidence ?

    What Quantity of fuel burned off outside the buildings when the vehicles struck – was it 10% , 50% , 90% ?

    The weakness in your argument is that you must make assumptions as to the conditions inside the towers prior to collapse. You assume that the cause was jet fuel and office fires but this is a pretty big assumption. If the towers had collapsed in an irregular fashion , they had not turned to dust and Jones,Harrit et al had not found evidence of molten iron/thermite in the dust , I would have no hesitation in accepting your analysis. Unfortunately , it cannot stand on its own , in my opinion.

    The reasons for the collapse may well have been explained more clearly if the site had not been cleared so quickly and a proper forensic analysis done as I believe the law demands. This only adds to my suspicions.

    Interesting blog , though !

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