on September 1, 2006
It is absolutely amazing the kind of reviews people will dare to give. As one prior reviewer astutely noticed, many "reviews" were done by people with an agenda to sell who obviously did not read the book. In fact, even before the book was published you had 911 conspiracy folks writing negative assertions about the book before it was even published. This tells you the mindset of such people and the prejudice they have. There is simply no way you can be objective by trying to trash something before you've even read it. But such is the folly of some. And let me say that I am particularly disappointed with Ed Haas, who appears to be just using this forum to promote his conspiracy agenda instead of reviewing the book honestly.
As someone who came to this issue trying to objectively ascertain what the truth is regarding 911, and as a former native New Yorker for over 30 years, I will now try to render an honest review of this book as one who has actually read it and also has verified many of its points from my own research. I will also point out some of the facts which prove that most of the negative reviewers did NOT read the book.
First, let's dispense with the most obvious nonsense arguments. It is a fallacy of logic to argue that because the book was done by folks at Popular Mechanics (PM), which is owned by Hearst Communications, that this automatically dismisses the evidence from the many independent scientists, engineers, physicists, and other experts. This is known as the genetic "consider the source" fallacy. Such reasoning is flawed and is just a way of avoiding the facts presented by PM.
Second, it has not been conclusively proven that the Ben Chertoff who used to be the head of the magazine's research department at PM is in any way related to Michael Chertoff, the head of Homeland Security. Now, according to Ben's mom, Michael MIGHT be a distant cousin (p. 102). Yet conspiracy theorists unwisely take a MIGHT and turn it into a conclusive fact. Nonsense. If that is the case, then I can argue that the Bush administration is using Bush's baked beans to poison us all in a worldwide conspiracy to dominate the world...LOL. And do I even need to point out that people having the same last name does not necessarily mean they must be related. That fallacy is called the non sequitur. But let's move on.
One argument has been made that the people at PM are not scientists and engineers. Fair enough. But that's a red herring designed to divert our attention from the facts. They CONSULTED many scientists and engineers and reported what THEY said. That is the point. But since we are on the topic of "scientists and engineers," perhaps we are to believe that David Ray Griffin, who doesn't have the first degree in relevant scientific or engineering fields, is a credible source of information about what happened on 911? Mr. Griffin has been shown to be an author with an agenda who cannot see that he has been duped by the likes of French author Thierry Meyssan, who "...never visited the United States for his research" (p.59). So the work of Griffin is highly suspect and lacks real credibility.
It is easy for some reviewers to talk big talk about PM committing "straw man fallacies" while committing their own fallacies, but the facts are otherwise. This book is excellent in its presentation of the facts and documentation. The only problem I had is that it didn't use the standard numerical reference techniques most scholarly books use. I would have also liked it if they made it easier to contact the many experts consulted by providing contact information such as email addresses. That way, it would be easier to verify that these experts really said what it is claimed they said.
However, I have found in my research that if you really want to contact someone, all you need is some basic information and you can usually follow-up and make contact. Other than that, the book does a great job of answering (with credible sources from those expert in the relevant fields) most of the major wild 911 "inside job" conspiracy theories.
The book is divided up into 4 major sections: The Planes, The World Trade Center, The Pentagon, and Flight 93, with an afterward by James Meiggs, editor-in-chief of PM, 3 appendices (Appendix A: Experts Consulted, Appendix B: World Trade Center Report, Appendix C: Pentagon Building Report), notes and an index. I will now highlight points from each major section:
The book nicely puts the issue in a conspiracy "claim" vs. "fact" format, which makes things easier to follow. Some claim that the 19 "amateur" hijackers with box cutters taking over planes and flying them and hitting "75 percent" of their targets raises a lot of questions. Perhaps. But you don't need to be an expert flyer to crash a big plane into a big building. That's common sense. But "Debunking 911 myths" points out that "The hijacker pilots...may not have been have been highly skilled, but they were not complete amateurs" (p. 4).
Some have tried to argue that there was a "missile" or "pod" underneath the planes that hit the Towers. However, this assumption was based on an inaccurate interpretation of bad photography. "Debunking" consulted Ronald Greeley, director of the Space Photography Laboratory at Arizona State University. His findings? "After studying the high-resolution image and comparing it to photos of a Boeing 767-200ER's undercarriage, Greeley dismissed the notion that the Howard photo reveals a `pod'...In fact, Greeley confirms the photo reveals only the Boeing's right fairing, a pronounced bulge that contains the landing gear" (pp. 9, 10). So, conspiracy theorists have mistaken lighting angles and pixel distortion on digital images for some kind of "pod" or missile.
Another false claim debunked by "Debunking" is the idea that there was a "stand down" order given to the military so that the hijacked planes could reach their targets. "Debunking" catalogs all the confusion on 911 and shows that even though the hijackers had turned off the transponders, fighter planes were ordered to battle stations. But with over 4,000 planes in the air, and an inadequate ATC system, it is not hard to see why intercepts were delayed (pp.14-19). It was also pointed out the NORAD's more sophisticated radar focused outside the continental US for threats, not inward. No need for wild conspiracy theories.
The World Trade Center:
One claim is that the Towers were not brought down by the combination of large planes full of jet fuel slamming into them and the subsequent damage, but they collapsed due to intentially placed bombs or controlled demolition charges.
However, "Debunking" provides evidence from credible independent sources that this was not the case (pp. 28-58). I have personally watched video of authentic controlled demolitions and the Towers and building 7 do NOT precisely match them. In real demo, the puffs of smoke from the charges going off, sometimes called "squibs," always come first and then the building comes down. With WTCs 1,2, 7 the "squibs" show up only AFTER the building begins to collapse. But conspiracy theorists ignore that little fact to their detriment.
Conspiracy theorists are fond of making mention of the work of professor Steven Jones of BYU. It is claimed that he found something in a sample of the WTC rubble which indicates to him that explosives were used. However, the credibility of Mr. Jones is in question on many counts.
First, his own colleagues at BYU, who are civil engineers while he is NOT, do not find his work credible. Second, "Debunking" consulted metallurgy professors (specialists in metals analysis) who "...found flaws with the evidence Jones uses to support his arguments...Alan Pense, professor emeritus of metallurgical engineering at Lehigh University, said: `The photographs shown to support melting steel are, to me, either unconvincing ...or show materials that appear to be other than steel'" (p. 41).
Third, what really caught my eye was this info regarding the "thermite" allegedly found by Mr. Jones. "Richard Furehan, professor of metallurgical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, says that Jones does not provide adequate evidence to show that thermite reactions did take place...even if they did, that would not necessarily indicate the presence of explosives. THE THERMITE REACTION COULD HAVE OCCURRED WITH ALUMINUM METAL AND ANY OXIDE THAT HAPPENS TO BE NEAR IT (p. 42, emphasis added.). So, a thermite reaction can take place in other ways. Interesting that we don't hear that from the conspiracy folks.
And finally, "Debunking" provides more information from various experts showing that Mr. Jones' work is "naïve and unscientific" (as Dr. Thomas Eagar of MIT personally told me in a private email), but space won't permit me to go into further detail.
When it comes to building 7, most conspiracy theorists always mention the words of Larry Silverstein on a nationally televised show using the words "pull it." These words are interpreted to mean that Silverstein was admitting he told a "fire commander" (note not a demolition specialist) to "pull it" (misread to mean demolish building 7). However, "Debunking" points out from 4 different demolition experts that "pull it" is "not slang for controlled demolition" (p. 57). Even after Silverstein clarified his words, saying that his concern was to "pull" the squadron of firefighters from the building, conspiracy theorists still cling to their misinterpretation and misapplication of Silverstein's words. What's more, with all the fuss over the collapse of Towers 1, 2 and building 7, people forget that other buildings and structures either fully or partially collapsed that day (such as the St. Nicholas Church, the North Bridge - wonder if Silverstein owns those too, or if demolition charges were placed in those too).
And yes, despite false claims to the contrary, "Debunking" did address in detail the Empire State Building and the B-25 that crashed into it and listed the vital differences between that incident and the collapse of the Towers (pp. 29-32).
One conspiracy theory about the Pentagon, circulated mainly by a French writer who never visited the United States, is that flight 77 did not hit the Pentagon. Some say it was a missile (although no credible witnesses say they saw one) and other say it was a "Global Hawk" (a smaller, unmanned plane, although no one saw that either and no GH parts were found).
Pentagon Video - Some people argue that if flight 77 hit the Pentagon, then the security camera should clearly show it. Yet "Debunking" points out that the Philips LTC 1261 camera filmed at one frame per second, while the plane was traveling at about 780 feet per second. Now, anyone who knows anything about photography can understand what that means; you will not get a clear image of a plane (p. 61).
Small Debris - Although most conspiracy theorists claim that the debris of the Pentagon was too little to be from flight 77, they also do not investigate the fact that most airplane crashes do NOT leave great remains. "Debunking" gives several examples of this fact. So this does not prove flight 77 did not hit the Pentagon.
Intact Windows - Now the idea that regular windows could remain intact after a commercial jet hits a building would seem rather incredible, but not when you know all the facts. "Debunking" explains that the Pentagon windows were blast resistant and weighed "1,600" pounds each (p. 71). Wow! My first reaction was `What the heck kind of window weighs that much?' It seems they wanted them to withstand a powerful missile or bomb. But these were not household windows, and therefore any conspiracy argument from intact windows after the plane crash appear to be based on ignorance.
"Debunking" deals a death blow to the main conspiracy theories surrounding this flight. Instead of the flight crashing due to the heroics of the brave passengers, the flight is said to have either been shot down by an F16 or a mysterious white jet. But the facts show that the Army Colonel Donn de Grand-Pre lied on the Alex Jones show about knowing the pilot who allegedly shot down flight 93. Mr. Grand-Pre also lied about contacting General Hugh Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time (pp. 77-80).
"Debunking" also proves, from a credible source, that the white jet that was seen around the wreckage of flight 93 was not a military plane but "a Dassault Falcon 20 business jet owned by the VF Corporation" (p. 82).
Cell phones - Conspiracy theorists are fond of saying that all those calls were somehow faked because cell phones can't work above 8,000 feet. However, "Debunking" proves from cell phone company sources that this is not true: "While not exactly reliable, cell-phone calls from airplanes were possible in 2001...because cell sites have a range of several miles, even at 35,000 feet...says Rick Kemper, director of technology and security at the CTIA - The Wireless Association" (pp. 83,84).
When it comes to the small amount of wreckage found at the flight 93 crash site, "Debunking" also documents, from experts in air crash analysis, the fact that most plane crashes routinely leave little wreckage (pp. 86-90). The problem, then, is that while conspiracy believers ask many questions, they seem to rarely find credible answers from proper authorities.
So despite what you hear from some fake reviewers of the book, the book does address most of the wild conspiracy claims they tried to say the book did not address (which shows they didn't read the book).
In conclusion, it seems to me that the fake reviews by people with an agenda to push shows the dishonesty and disingenuousness of those in the 911 conspiracy movement. The facts show from this book, and other sources available online, that if the "official story" has holes in it the size of a "hundred pound block of Swiss cheese" (as one reviewer opined), then that goes hundreds of times more for these wild "inside job" theories which have no credible, factual support.
I applaud the people at PM for doing a fine job of putting together a masterful work disproving these nonsensical theories that ultimately dishonor the memory of the lives we lost on 911 and their surviving families. Remember, Remember, the FACTS about the 11th of September...because the Master Himself said it best: "and you shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free" (John 8:32).