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.