Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

"Crisis actors:" the conspiracy theorists reach a new low

Whenever I think the conspiracy theorists of the world have reached an all-time low, and can go no lower, they surprise me by getting out the shovels.

Of course, it's hard to beat the "9/11 is an inside job" thing.  Believe me, I'm no apologist for much of what our government does, but the idea that government operatives would bomb the World Trade Center, costing over a thousand lives, in order to provide false pretenses for entering a war against Iraq, is absurd and reprehensible.  And of course, you have the ongoing chemtrails foolishness, blaming the government (acting through HAARP, or some chemical additive to jet fuel, or both) for Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy -- as if nature by itself isn't good enough at cooking up disastrous storms.

But now we have a new nadir.  The contention:  the Sandy Hook massacre never happened.  No children were killed.  The grieving parents and horrified first-responders were actors.  The whole thing was set up by the government...

... to give momentum for overturning the Second Amendment.

Don't believe me?  Go here if you can stand to, where you can watch a video explaining the whole thing (I got through about five minutes of it before nausea forced me to shut it off).  Otherwise, perhaps a photograph will suffice:

The whole thing is thoroughly debunked in this link at Snopes; but that won't stop the conspiracy nuts, of course.  These are the same people who think that Theodore Roosevelt's son, Kermit Roosevelt, was an actor who played the part of Adolf Hitler during World War II (in this mythical version of world history, no Jews were killed in concentration camps), and was spirited away by American CIA agents after the war was over, and spent the rest of his life as... Walt Disney.

Again, if you don't believe me... [link]

So it's not like any amount of evidence is going to convince these people.  They have long since abandoned any respect for actual evidence, logic, and rationality for their own warped view of humanity.

You know, despite my poking fun at irrational beliefs, I really do try to be tolerant.  I do the best I can to understand people whose views differ from my own, and not just to be an arrogant asshole.  I really, honestly believe that everyone has a right to his/her own opinions, as long as those opinions don't include forcing me to believe differently than I do.

I might make an exception in the case of these folks, however.  It is my considered stance that these folks are badly in need of a punch in the jaw.  If they really think that anyone, anyone has the right to demean what the parents, friends, and community of the victims of the Sandy Hook killings went through (and are still going through), in order to promote their own ridiculous, counterfactual worldview -- well, all I can say is that they're wrong.  And somehow they should be forced to take down that website, and after that, vanish into the obscurity that they so richly deserve.


  1. Whoa but look at the traffic they must be getting, hm?

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. 3 buildings fell at the speed of gravity into their own footprint. The bottom two-thirds of the buildings didn't seem to slow the descent at all, nor alter the trajectory during descent. Total implosion obliteration. Earnest laboratory testing could not duplicate the results. Thermite compounds were discovered in the residue from the site. The architects of the buildings don't even believe it. Controlled demolition experts think the collapses look textbook. Plenty of scientific professionals have weighed in on the physics and chemistry involved and if there is confidence in the scientific community over the official account, I haven't heard it, found it, etc.

    To me it's the equivalent of a chemist saying "I reviewed the Titanic and the hole caused by the iceberg is covered in explosive compounds."

    Accusation? No. Verdict? No.
    It is a lot of circumstantial evidence to overlook.

    The massacre at Sandy does not have a bevy of professionals casting doubt on the transpiration of events and the purveyors of the website you referenced are despicable.

    1. You sir, are talking about things you don't understand, but it´s is ok if you still are open to facts. I have read all the 9/11"conspiracy" for about 400 hours, and am myself a construction engineer(10000h of university).
      A building is designed to hold it´s self weight(static load) * a safety factor. But what happens when you add G-forces? Imagine resting a hammer on glass, thin enough to be broken by the weight of two hammers but not by one(safety factor). Everything is stable, but letting the hammer drop from just an inch will brake it. Same thing with WTC, the top 30 floors(30 hammers) falling 10 feet will pulverize the floor below it, at 99% of freefall. (gravity actually has the speed of light)
      A fire causes thermal expansion of beams and elements (1,3% expansion is 2 feet in a beam the width of WTC), and on a molecular lever it weakens steel by 60-80% since the atoms are vibrating more, making it softer. That's why we use fire insulation, which delays the onset of structural failure by 1-2 hours so ppl have time to evacuate and/or for firemen to save the building. Unless they took out a bottom corner, the building will fall straight down (gravity goes down, not sideways). WTC was also constructed as a "tube within a tube" which is excellent for wind-resistance, and in a collapse it will be "falling inside the tube".
      By footprint you mean scattered over the surrounding 8 blocks, and by "thermite compound" he, S.Jones, means sulfur, iron and aluminum, which are basic elements found everywhere.
      I have tested both steel and concrete in a laboratory, but I don't see what it proves that we cant build a skyscraper indoors to test it.
      The architects phrase "Omg, I cant believe it", does not mean "it must be controlled demolition". I for one, couldn't believe it took so long before it fell, and was impressed by the good engineering.
      Now you will probably start to point out other "strange" things from pentagon etc.. But let me suggest that you think hard about what I said first, try to understand them, and maybe you will see what is wrong with the "c-theory". Then google for "debunking 911" and you will have answers to the rest of you questions. If you have time you can also familiarize yourself with other c-theories(wikipedia has a list) and you´ll might see that they are all the same. "Pointing out that everything is strange", "the government is evil" and asks for donations or sells books so they can make money, but completely ignores the real facts like an airplane and fire, which is enough to explain all the damage.

    2. So what you're saying is that 30 floors falling on 70 floors will only slow down the top thirty floors as it falls into the bottom 70 by 1% of the speed of free fall, because that is what happened.
      I understand inertia pretty well.

      Not sure at all what purpose stating "gravity has the speed of light."

      You're analogy involves 30 hammers falling through 70 panes of glass without the hammers ever slowing down. I would enjoy seeing this experiment produce the results you describe.

      There have been plenty of catastrophes that have happened to skyscrapers, ranging from complete immolation (without collapse) to being struck by various objects, to being caught in dire weather conditions. We have either the convenience or the drawback (depending on your approach) of claiming that the specific situation we are discussing is unique in many ways (chiefly being the size and scope).

      Being a former Air Force sergeant, I have a hard time explaining why standard operating procedure was not followed on that day. 2 of those 4 planes should have been intercepted by military aircraft (an occurrence that happens with regularity) and were not. We train our response teams to be in the air and on intercept in 6 minutes. The Pentagon should never have been struck because that plane should have been intercepted. The US military spends a trillion a year, trains endlessly, then when the rubber meets the road, fails at something they do routinely when it actually matters? It's a failure that's hard to swallow, especially when no one was reprimanded. It's an egregious failure that should have ended someone's career (as with Pearl Harbor, a few Generals got their walking papers).

      It was a unique day on all accounts.


    3. Let me be more clear. The Air Force failing to sortie planes when there is a clear and present danger from domestic aircraft is the equivalent of you forgetting how to drive your car home from work tonight. If you've already driven to and from work 86 times in a year, forgetting how to drive home on the 87th day defies all logic. Not only have you forgotten how to drive home from work, but your spouse just called and said they fell in the kitchen and hit their head and are bleeding out. You'd love to come home and save their life, but shucks, you forgot how to drive a car. Oh and you also forgot how to use a phone to call 911 as well. A crisis is in progress, a life is at stake, and you have unexplainable amnesia.

      To quote Gordon, it's absurd and reprehensible.

    4. Yes, one floor is only designed to hold it´s own weight * 2(safety) + ppl and furniture. However, even a smaller load, if dropped, will cause g-forces greater than the designed maximum static load. (like using a hammer on a bathroom scale, it might show 200 pounds for a 1 pound hammer). In WTC we have 30 floors, falling 1 floor(10 feet), which will completely obliterate the lower structure. Its resistance will be below 1%, but transfer of inertia would slow it down by 1-3 seconds depending on assumptions.

      You used the notion of "the speed of gravity", and I pointed out that v(g)=c, not g. It had no meaning to this topic.

      With thin sheets of glass, that would brake by the weight of 2 hammers, it is not strange at all. But that is for you to ponder or test if you doubt the logic.

      I am sure structures before have survived fires, but not all structures are the same. Wood and steel tend to be worse then concrete. I assume you are talking about the Windsor tower that burned for 26h? It actually did collapse after only 2 hours, the thing still standing in conspiracy pictures is it´s concrete core. Like brick chimneys often remain after a normal house fire. (do you see how they lie to you by "forgetting" to tell the whole story?)
      I would say most, if not all, wood and steel buildings that haven't been saved by firemen have collapsed. Show me one that haven't.
      "Struck by various objects", like a 200ton 747 at 500mph that severed ~20% of core columns? Your theory is missing the elephant in the room.

      As I guessed, when error in the conspiracy theory is shown, ppl move on to other areas "but what about this, what about that" and it goes on forever. Start in one end, until its resolved, then we can move on to other stuff. If there was no demolition, and S.Jones, loosechange, fahrenheit and others are easily proven to lie and take things out of context, then maybe they might be lying on other accounts as well, and the whole theory is made up? (just to earn money)

      As for the military, maybe 911 wasn't routine? Hard to train for what you haven't expected. But this is not my area of expertise, not compared to you and your experience. You might enjoy reading these:
      Let me know what you think! Is it BS or fact?

    5. You refer to the load of one floor, but not the compounded effect of 70 and then describe how the transfer of inertia would slow down the collapse 1-3 seconds... for 1 floor? So after 70 floors the slowing would be equivalent to 70-210 seconds? Please explain.

      What I know of "freefall" (to avoid using "gravity")... The only way the 100th floor could reach the ground at the speed of "freefall" is if there weren't 99 floors below it. The building collapsing on the building slows down the rate of descent.

      My "error" is one of applied science.
      I didn't change topics due to feeling "debunked."
      I'm still actively questioning the physics involved in the collapses.

      Operation Bojinka was a planned terrorist attack involving a few of the same individuals who planned 9/11. Their plan was to use a cessna aircraft full of explosives to crash, kamikaze style, into CIA headquarters. The plan was thwarted in 1995. The US intelligence community was aware of this plot. NORAD claiming that there was a "lack of imagination" on the part of the US military with regard to planes being used as weapons doesn't make much sense when they had credible information that terrorists were actively planning such a scenario. How many flights get intercepted in US airspace and how often is a subject for debate (national security prevents us from knowing exactly). I remember asking the pilots in my Flight back in 2002 about that very thing. They corroborated that domestic flights are in fact intercepted from sorties flown out of the base we were stationed at... but that is anecdotal.

      The website you provided did give official accounts of the Vice President ordering jet fighters to intercept the flight that, at that point, was heading in their direction 60 miles out. An airliner traveling at 500 miles per hour would cover that distance in roughly 12 minutes, and even with an average call-to-airborne time being 6 minutes, that doesn't give a jet fighter time to intercept.

      So it appears that, with the help of the website you provided (which outlines the timelines for scramble orders), the response to an "aircraft as a suicide missile" was in fact an oversight, despite credible intelligence information that such an attack was already planned. It is to be believed that our military was assuming too much about what type of threats were possible (hubris?). Incompetence that saw Khalid Shaikh Mohammed planning operation Bojinka and then able to fulfill his desire on 9/11, with the intelligence community unable to take the initial threat as seriously as it was.

      Being former military, it was the militaristic breakdown that day that caused me to be incredulous. I have done plenty of research, but it was General Myers' testimony that I had not read transcripts for (until today) that brought it into focus for me. I thought it was the deliberate appearance of oversight. No, that oversight was genuine.

    6. No, 1-3 seconds is ofc for the whole building collapse, sorry if I was not clear. The first floor would logically slow the freefall acceleration in 10feet by 1/30:th (or half if you assume the falling block also takes damage, and even less if we assume structure failure from the onset of outward bending of the outer tube).
      Freefall would have taken about 9,5 seconds. In the videos you can time it to 11-13 seconds (c-videos stops the clock early to make it look "weird"), and also see that debris falling on the side is falling ahead, because the building itself is slower then freefall. (maybe the easiest way for anyone to see it wasn't freefall)

      Why the obsession with falling speeds? Do you mean that if the building is falling a second "too fast to imagine" then it must be something extra pushing it down, like explosives on the roof? Silly. And if it was textbook demolition, there would be explosion on every floor (not just air and smoke coming out of 2 windows), making all floors fall at the same time. It is clear that the lower 70 floors are rigid, not blown loose, and are pancaked during collapse.

      No demolition.
      No thermite.
      Expected falling speeds and trajectory.
      Most steel buildings collapse in fire.
      Still questioning? I love physics, question are welcome.

      Glad you found some relevant info on the military issues. I have however no interest in debating them anymore, it is just a waste of time for me, and it was ten years ago. Here is another collection of useful links:
      In the end there is also the "scientific confidence" you sought after. Papers published in real engineering journals. I have a paper of my own coming out soon actually, not about demolition, but concrete mechanics and chemistry.


  4. I like how conspiracy theorists always get so much hate just for questioning whether the "official" story is true or not. People should question whether or not it's true, because the government never likes to tell the truth.

    1. Been there, done that.
      What needs to be done is for c-theorists to question the c-theory.

  5. I would prefer for "incredulous" and "conspiracy theory" to enjoy more exclusivity from one another.

    That being said... You're both right. What is needed is for the inquisitive to apply as much objectivity as they can muster.

    As Ronny proved in this string... "The Truth Is Out There."

    And as Ronny and Gordon prove, tempered emotion and a willingness to listen, advise, and direct people to information that could help glean the truth is what we need, now more than ever.

    (Optional essay question: Have you ever been happy to be wrong?)

  6. Mr. Engblom. As you suggested, I decided to look up some publications. (Let's go back in time, shall we?)
    Here are some excerpts from a few of them.

    New York Times Feb 15, 1964

    "A Times article says a group has raised the question of the towers' safety in the case of an explosion or airplane crash. Richard Roth releases a statement saying that the project's structural engineering firm has done a study proving that damage from an airplane traveling 600 miles per hour would be only local and that people elsewhere in the towers would be safe."

    (They are referring to a 707. Gross weight=336,000 pounds, 23,000 gallons of fuel capacity. 767 Gross weight=350,000lbs with 23,000 gallons of fuel. Equivalent.)

    Engineering News Record Magazine April 2, 1964

    "A design procedure that will be used for structural framing of the 1,350-ft high twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City gives the exterior columns tremendous reserve strength. Live loads on these columns can be increased more than 2,000% before failure occurs."

    (So the load on these columns could have been increased 20 times before triggering a failure? Am I reading "tremendous RESERVE strength" wrong?)

    The guys who built them had a lot of confidence in the load and safety factors of this building up to and including the exact scenario being questioned, but not only were they wrong... They were abysmally wrong? Not only were they abysmally wrong, but the scenario they tested and "debunked" would actually bring about a uniformed and orderly collapse of both of their buildings, despite being damaged non-uniformly, with a tilt angle at collapse of less than 1degree?

    Cognitive Dissonance?

    1. Sorry for not visiting in a while.
      1. If and how anyone did calculations for 600mph is questionable. However the 707 with approach speed would have 7 times less kinetic energy than the hijacked 767 with collision speeds.
      2. There were also 9 heavily damaged internal columns, the supposed calculations only accounted for a whole in the exterior columns.
      3. All fire calculations assume fires to be extinguished and fireproofing working, which was now blown off in the collision (fireproofing for skyscrapers actually have a new standard now that requires better binding strength, and must withstand an extra hour of fire). And the sprinkler system was severed. (new standard requires at least one backup) As I said, it was impressive they still stood for 1-2 hours.
      4. A typical conspiracy way of argumentation is playing with words. Here "exterior" and "live loads".
      The exterior columns main purpose is to carry _wind_ loads. The internal columns carry _dead_ and _live_ loads. "Live loads" is only a small part of the total combined loads and could probably be increased by 20 times and still be within safety limits. Nobody designs a building to carry 20 times more than required combined loads. Or do you think WTC was strong enough to carry (110*20) 2200 floors?
      Yes, you were reading the "tremendous RESERVE" correctly, you are just being misled with wordplay in a place where you need some education to understand the concept.