Skepticism

Afternoon Inquisition, 12.12

A quick one today – I’ve been sort of busy all week, plus fighting a cold.  I thought we could go back to basics for today’s Afternoon Inquisition.

I have lots of ‘non-skeptic’ friends and sometimes it can be difficult to explain what I’m doing in the skeptical community.  So today’s question is:

What is a skeptic?

And how do you define it to a non-skeptic?

P.S. Atlantans, don’t forget to join me at Skeptics in the Pub this weekend!

Masala Skeptic

Maria Walters (a.k.a. Masala Skeptic) has spent a lot of time in ‘furrin parts,’ including Hong Kong, Trinidad, and Pittsburgh. Although her passport is from India, she’s spent most of her adult life in the United States. She currently lives in Atlanta and has an unhealthy affection for science fiction, Neil Gaiman and all things Muppet.

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337 Comments

  1. Well, I will defer to dictionary.com for the options:

    1. a person who questions the validity or authenticity of something purporting to be factual.

    2. a person who maintains a doubting attitude, as toward values, plans, statements, or the character of others.

    3. a person who doubts the truth of a religion, esp. Christianity, or of important elements of it.

    4. (initial capital letter) Philosophy. a. a member of a philosophical school of ancient Greece, the earliest group of which consisted of Pyrrho and his followers, who maintained that real knowledge of things is impossible.
    b. any later thinker who doubts or questions the possibility of real knowledge of any kind.

    –adjective 5. pertaining to skeptics or skepticism; skeptical.

    6. (initial capital letter) pertaining to the Skeptics.

    I personally would tend toward definition #1.

    On the other hand, I would think that the closer definition, for many of the commenters on this website, is #2 or #3. (See “Friendly letter …” post from two days ago.)

  2. @Skeptical Male:

    I like #1, also. I tend to think of “skepticism” as being precisely an attitude of question towards anything that claims to be true.

    Which, I think, should not be confused with mistrust; I think it’s easy for people to think of skepticism as being an ideology, and therefore appropriate even in conditions in which evidence should have put our doubts to rest.

  3. I skeptic is a person who weighs statements of fact and the evidence for them against their importance. Clearly a person who questions everything can not function. A person who questions nothing is not a skeptic. Skeptics can accept small things with small evidence and big things with big evidence or if suitably plied with alcohol.

  4. @braak: Yes, that seems to be the implication of #2 …

    I should clarify my prior comment in that definition #1 and #3 are consistent, and really, #3 is a subset of #1. But the fact that so many people devote most of their skepticism to religion (and Christianity in particular) seems to suggest why that particular focus of skepticism has its own separate definition. The reason for this phenomenon – and in particular, the focus upon Christianity – is interesting to me.

  5. A skeptic is simply someone who understands how easy it is to misunderstand things; and therefore accepts claims as true only insofar as they meet certain tests of veracity (such as logical and reasonable soundness, support through evidence, etc.).

  6. @TheSkepticalMale: I wonder how much of this is probably just exposure. Do philosophical skeptics in Sweden spend as much time being skeptical about religion? In India, is the focus still on Christianity?

    The Christian religion is a big deal around in this country; it seems reasonable that, one way or the other, you’re going to have to have an opinion on it.

  7. I like to think of a skeptics as people who don’t leave the evolving to their DNA. We’ve mentally adapted to living in a big, connected, technical world. Credulity can kill, and a critical, evidence based approcah to life is a valuable survival mechanism.

    When I have to explain it to a non-skeptic, I usually say “I ask… QUESTIONS!” Then I cover the lower half of my face with my sweater and wander away, flapping my free arm and laughing omonously like a cartoon vampire.

  8. Those who doubt as opposed to those who deny.

    Those who maintain an agnostic stance vs a negative stance.

    Those who avoid double standards in the application of criticism.

    Restraint from judgment in the absence of full inquiry.

    Those who do not assume that criticism removes the burden of proof.

    Those who do not suggest that unconvincing evidence is grounds for dismissal of the evidence.

  9. And I would refer to Shermer’s site, which defines skepticism as I aim to employ it:

    But what does it mean to be skeptical? Skepticism has a long historical tradition dating back to ancient Greece when Socrates observed: “All I know is that I know nothing.” But this is not a practical position to take. Modern skepticism is embodied in the scientific method, that involves gathering data to formulate and test naturalistic explanations for natural phenomena. A claim becomes factual when it is confirmed to such an extent it would be reasonable to offer temporary agreement. But all facts in science are provisional and subject to challenge, and therefore skepticism is a method leading to provisional conclusions.

    Also worth reading:

    What is the Skeptic’s Society

    A Skeptical Manifesto

  10. @TheSkepticalMale:

    I find it to be interesting as well. My thought that is such people still are still held in the grip of their Christianity and thus continue to rail against it. Many times what we hate in others, we hate because it reminds us of some aspect of ourselves that we hate.

  11. @Stacey and @braak: I don’t know the answer, but based on the American Religous Information Survey conducted by the U.S. government, last time in 2001, and the worldwide statistics compiled by David B. Barret for Encylopedia Britannica, last time in 2001, the populations appear to break down like this:

    1. Christianity: 81% in the U.S., 33% worldwide
    2. Judaism: 1.4% in the U.S., 0.22% worldwide
    3. Islam: 0.6% in the U.S., 21% worldwide
    4. Buddhism: 0.5% in the U.S., 6% worldwide
    5. Hinduism: 0.4% in the U.S., 14% worldwide
    6. Other religions: 1% in the U.S., 10% worldwide

    And finally, those who would described themselves as non-religious (atheist or agnostic): 15% in the U.S., 16% worldwide

    Is Christianity just an easy target in the U.S. because of it’s prevelance? Or do we just have a politically correct tendency not to pick on the minorities (e.g., Judaism and Islam are both historically and philosophically related to Christianity).

  12. @Stacey:

    Skepticism has a long historical tradition dating back to ancient Greece, when Socrates observed: “All I know is that I know nothing.” But this pure position is sterile and unproductive and held by virtually no one. If you were skeptical about everything, you would have to be skeptical of your own skepticism.

    WHAT………..a load of crap….(channeling Chelsea Handler).

    It is neither sterile nor unproductive, but a requirement of successful skepticism. A skeptic who is not skeptical of skepticism has never been and can never be a skeptic.

  13. @TheSkepticalMale:

    do we just have a politically correct tendency not to pick on the minorities

    I think it comes down to power and influence. Because Christian ideas and fundi crazy stuff keeps affecting us in negative ways… because so many people rely on them for guidance when ti comes to public policy etc… I think they it is more appropriate to focus our energies on debunking them.

    If Neo Pagan Fuzzy Wuzzy-ness suddenly became the predominant system used by our government and had as much influence over our daily lives then I think we would need to be just as skeptical of it.

    I think skepticism must always be used in relation to power and influence. I don’t care that you have a lucky penny in your shoe until you start making rules about everyone needing a lucky penny in all of our shoes.

    I wear heels, pennies would fall out.

  14. @TheSkepticalMale:

    Is Christianity just an easy target in the U.S. because of it’s prevelance?

    I personally wouldn’t use the phrase “easy target”; I’d say that because it’s more prevalent, it’s more valid/practical to discuss. Why spend 80% of your time discussing something that only affects 1-20% of the people, when there’s a much bigger fish to fry?

  15. @wytworm: Yes. I have noticed people who move away from Christian dogma to another dogma (either another religion or atheism) becuase of a bad emotional experience. One of the parts I left out from the ARIS (above) is that in the same survey, the percentage of Christians in the U.S. declined from 88% to 81% from 1990 to 2001, and the percentage of atheist/agnostics increased from 7% to 15% from 1990 to 2001, with other religions increasing only modestly or none at all. (By the way, the ARIS asks an open-ended question – are you religious, and if so, what religious – with a follow-up about denominations if the answer is “Christian.” The percentages above are adjusted (do not reflect) for those who refused to answer, which interestingly rose from 2% to 5% from 1990 to 2001.)

    @Stacey: You rock, as always.

    @Kimbo Jones: Nice caveat.

  16. @Stacey:

    Why spend 80% of your time discussing something that only affects 1-20% of the people, when there’s a much bigger fish to fry?

    Because no matter how many people subscribe to what team, you will seem to be biased if you isolate one religion and do not address the same issues in the others. e.g., At this point in history, Christians are not bombing civilians in Indian (and elsewhere) due to their religious beliefs. I think all the religions need to be taken to task with equal vigor.

  17. @wytworm: I don’t think Shermer is saying that there’s are things we shouldn’t be skeptical of, but instead that, in order to reach a provisional conclusion, one must be able to avoid getting lost in “all I know is that I know nothing”, so that he doesn’t just throw his hands up in the air and wonder why he should even try. It has the same purpose as ceteris parabis in economics.

    The fact that the conclusion reached is only ever provisional, shows that Shermer isn’t putting a limit on skepticism.

    IMO.

  18. @Kaylia_Marie: Granted … But what about 9/11 – the first attack of U.S. citizens in the continental U.S.? Haven’t the negative effects of extreme Islam hit us significantly in the U.S. too? … And those damn Buddhists, you can’t even argue with them at all! Smug bastargds! (Just kidding.)

  19. @Kimbo Jones: I think danger is a valid reason to increase the priority of a certain target of skepticism.

    @TheSkepticalMale: On a practical level, I don’t think people have enough time on their hands to do this. Though, most people broaden their criticism to “organized religion”, and then use Christianity for examples because it is the most common.

  20. @Stacey and @Kaylia_Marie: … Also, I think that when we ask people to look at all religions objectively (instead of singling out one), those people will start to see the same philosophical and sociological patterns in all the religions, which I think has a much more significant intellectual effect. IMO, the documentary ‘Religulous’ attempted to accomplish this objective to some extent (to the extent you can in that limited format).

  21. @Stacey: Yet, with the similar underpinnings, you could address the vast majority of the arguments against Christianity against Judaism and Islam as well. I think that when people look at the rather fluid nature of the common history of Judaism-Christianity-Islam as a whole, it is harder to intellectually justify any of those religions as being the “right” belief.

  22. @TheSkepticalMale: Christians aren’t bombing people in India, it’s true, but they are going to great lengths to control the educational curriculum of public schools, restrict women’s biological autonomy, and prevent civic equality for homosexuals.

    While it may be true that there are Muslims, Jews, and Hindus that support those same policies in the US, if it weren’t for the Christians, that support wouldn’t matter. Likewise, the dissolution of Hinduism, Judaism, and Islam in the United States would have virtually no effect on the religious orthodoxy’s political ambitions.

    I mean, we work on a lot of different things, politically and philosophically, but, again, I think it’s reasonable to devote more time to solving the near problems first, and to attack the ones that provide the maximum benefit.

  23. @Stacey:
    Is he not saying we should not be pure skeptics based on his unsubstantiated claim that it is sterile and unproductive?

    Why is it sterile and unproductive?

    To meta-cognate is not the same as getting lost. Its more like getting found, no?

    The use of ‘Ceteris paribus’ should come with a license as, in my opinion, it is more often misunderstood and misused than not.

  24. @TheSkepticalMale: Maybe Christianity is the biggest target because we’re most familiar with it, and therefore, most equipped to attack it. To criticize all religions equally, one would have to be knowledgable about all religions.

  25. @braak: As with many other issues, I just advocate a more global view of applying religious skepticism, not just one centered around the U.S. and its problems. To me, 9/11 (and the resulting ability of the President to wage war in Iraq) proved that we should not live in a vaccuum.

  26. To me the skeptic is concerned with the validity of ideas and is not willing to accept assertions at face value. I like Carl Sagan’s quotation about this.

    “If all ideas have equal validity then you are lost, because then, it seems to me, no ideas have any validity at all. ” ~Carl Sagan.

  27. @wytworm: I’m only interpreting Shermer’s meaning, so what I say should be taken with a grain of salt. By “all I know is that I know nothing” being called “sterile and unproductive”, I inferred that the “outdated” definition of skepticism encourages one to become so bogged down in being skeptical that he can’t reach even a provisional conclusion. Which would be unproductive.

    And, ceteris paribus, all other things being equal, just allows economists to study one phenomenon without getting bogged down in all the “what-ifs” of other stuff that could possibly happen that would affect the phenomenon in question. Without ceteris paribus, one could get so bogged down in “what-ifs” that they’d never reach any sort of conclusion.

  28. @Stacey: @TheSkepticalMale: Agreed, but I think that these are related issues:

    While I oppose violent Islamic Fundamentalism, and am fully as skeptical of Islamic orthodoxy as I am of any religious institution, I’m not exactly qualified to say anything about it.

    Which is to say, beyond roundly condemning any belief system that perpetuates violence, I can’t address root causes, suggest reasonable or useful solutions, or, more importantly, even begin to propose policy ameliorating its effects.

    This is certainly why I don’t personally try to excoriate fundamentalists in other parts of the world–it’s just that it’s unlikely to be productive any time soon.

  29. @Stacey: “All I know is that I know nothing,” interestingly, is a great place to start from and to sometimes come back to, but if you don’t eventually learn something afterwards, you’re not likely to achieve very much.

  30. @TheSkepticalMale:

    what about 9/11 – the first attack of U.S. citizens in the continental U.S.?

    Have you ever heard of the War of 1812? Burning of Washington? of the White House?

    Haven’t the negative effects of extreme Islam hit us significantly in the U.S. too?

    You must mean the original bombing of the World Trade Center, which was investigated and prosecuted leaving a clear record of what happened and why, as opposed to 9/11 which was not and left no clear record of what happened and why.

  31. @braak: I think that’s a great way of putting it. I would only add that, what you “learn”, should be considered a provisional conclusion. If new evidence is introduced, that conclusion should always be open to revision.

  32. I think of a skeptic as an individual who does not accept something to be true unless there is verifiable evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.

    The skeptical focus on Christianity in this country may be due to the political focus of creationists. They’re attempting for force their beliefs on everyone through the government, when you cannot prove that God exists. “Will the real God please stand up? Thank you all. Will the real God now please sit down?”

  33. @Stacey:

    I know what it means and I get your point, I just disagree with it. It is an extraordinarily limited tool It is also I have observed an extraordinarily often misused tool. I suspect the reason why is that in reality, all things are almost never equal. Ergo, without fail the abstract model is operated in the concrete, is challenged and fails.

    It is a fine point and probably not worth the trouble we have put into the discussion.

  34. @Stacey:

    With respect, I would like to neutrally suggest that to be skeptical of Christianity is not the same as ‘attacking’ it. Based on recent threads I would extend to you the benefit of the doubt that you did not, intend it to be literal as in ‘lets attack christianity’ as much as you meant it as ‘lets attack a problem’.

    If this is not the case, I withdraw the benefit of the doubt.

    ;-)

  35. I like the definition that Steve Novella wrote:

    “A skeptic is one who prefers beliefs and conclusions that are reliable and valid to ones that are comforting or convenient, and therefore rigorously and openly applies the methods of science and reason to all empirical claims, especially their own. A skeptic provisionally proportions acceptance of any claim to valid logic and a fair and thorough assessment of available evidence, and studies the pitfalls of human reason and the mechanisms of deception so as to avoid being deceived by others or themselves. Skepticism values method over any particular conclusion.”

  36. @James Fox:

    I think this is the ‘painting of my madness’ as MacBeth’s wife would say, but I don’t see that statement as contradictory at all.

    I would say no ideas have validity and therefore are all equal. I just take exception with the conclusion that this leaves you lost. I would say that it leaves you found or ‘present’. In the Tolle-esque sense. To me, the battle is getting over the idea that ideas have to have validity to be useful.

  37. @wytworm: I suppose one would need to define what one means by “idea” to meaningfully discuss Sagan’s statement. I’ll go with the notion that an idea can be a theory, assertion of fact or a premise of understanding. The determination of weather any of these has value is IMHO an essential function of the rational thinking person. I choose science based medicine over CAM/woo because of the validation available evidence provides. I choose to be non religions because I have never seen any credible evidence for any supernatural event or being. This valuation process surely has merit and worth with regard to how one lives ones life and what endeavors one chooses to invest time, energy and money in.

    And while I respect the intellect of Tolle, I generally reject his neo mystical, pseudo Freudian, self actualizing, finding yourself knowing yourself mumbo jumbo.

  38. @wytworm: More to the point regarding Tolle, I don’t think inner bliss and a new world are achieved when we stop engaging in analytical thinking and let go of our ego attachments. It’s all like having Eric Fromm and the Buddha get together to hug bunnies and have an imaginary love child that lives outside the illusory constraints of time. The little dickens may be cute but he just aint gonna help no one.

  39. I think that a skeptic is someone who asks questions with the intent of increasing their understanding of the process involved in answering other questions.

  40. I prefer to think of this in terms of evolution and population genetics. A skeptic is a person committed to increasing the effective population size for ideas, which results in the fate of ideas actually being determined by their effect.

  41. When I say, “I am a skeptic”, this is what I have in mind.

    Everyone is a skeptic, just like everyone (statistically speaking, okay) is a metaphysical naturalist. Everyone agrees that evidence is important when evaluating the truth, and everyone agrees that there is a natural world.

    What makes me different, and what makes other skeptics different, is that I don’t have any faith in anything else.

  42. “And how do you define it to a non-skeptic?”

    Hmm… Okay. So, you remember when you were in middle school, and that one guy/girl was always bragging about how much sex he/she had? But never with anyone you knew, or who anyone had ever met? And you sort of thought, “Wow… that’s probably bullshit.”

    Well, being a skeptic is a lot like that, only about pretty much everything, pretty much all the time.

  43. Ha! Just came to a realization – just as life can be said to be about the journey, not the destination, so too can skepticism said to be about the method, not the conclusion.
    ` I’ll remember that next time I let someone else in on the fact that I’m a closet skeptic.

    Because I’m feeling the need to. It’s why I’m writing a movie. To tell the world about the beauty and utility of science and skepticism, but that… well… puppies and loooove!

  44. I like this thread, because it squarely addresses my own interest in the skeptics’ “group” (for lack of a my knowing whether there is a preferred alternative term – “society” perhaps?)

    And my interest really lies in my own skepticism regarding whether the group is faithful to the concept of being reasonably skeptical in a practical sense. Or alternatively whether the group, or elements within the group, promote certain dogma that, in my view, is inconsistent with reasoned skepticism.

    There is value, I believe, to promoting skeptical thinking. Just as I believe that there is value in various religious tenets espousing peace, love and charity.

    Just as both groups have the potential to bear fruit in advancing some of their respective virtues (1) reasoned skepticism and (2) peace, love and charity, they are similarly in a unique position it appears to cause greater harm in these realms.

    When a group (or its authority figures) that is associated with peace, love and charity lends its approval to war, hate and greed, it can garner support and acceptance for such pestilence where others might fail, to say nothing of the grating hypocrisy.

    I have perceived a similar danger in the skeptics’ movement. When a group associated with reasoned skepticism (or its authority figures) scorns or shuns reasoned skepticism then there is an added danger, in my view, of blunting reasoned skepticism.

    In a similar vein, when groups or individuals become popular or prominent and are seen as having sway over others, invariably they become the targets of people or institutions with power and wealth who would like to seduce or hijack such influence for less than honorable purposes. For example, there are known, historical examples where prominent scientists have been seduced in this fashion (in addition to religious leaders, jurists etc.)

    So the laudable sentiment I see in this thread is the recognition that reasoned skepticism must be forever vigilant and guard against dogma (or “fundamentalism” I think was mentioned) that is antithetical to authentic, reasoned skepticism.

  45. Which is precisely why I feel the most important target of skepticism for a skeptic ought to be ‘skepticism’ itself. Without this, in my opinion, one is too susceptible to the forces TS describes.

  46. Spurge –

    Let me respond with a general example in order to avoid getting bogged down in the details of any one specific case.

    There is a danger attaching to uncritical acceptance of scientific research, especially where the funding, sponsoring or control of the research creates a potential conflict of interest. The sources of the biggest danger for such conflicts I would say are governments and large corporations. Having the wealth or power to fund, sponsor or control scientific research can also go hand-in-hand with significant influence or power over how the results of the potentially conflicted research are then reported and disseminated. When there is proper cause to be skeptical of scientific claims that are novel and the product of potentially conflicted research, it can be difficult for the skeptics of the novel claims to have their voices heard.

    Skeptics, in their battles with religion, psychics, the paranormal, and a wide variety of frauds rely heavily upon the scientific method, scientific research, scientific evidence, and are widely regarded as favoring a critical and rational scientific approach to judging claims. They can also be perceived as has having a certain independence or objectivity in evaluating novel claims.

    There is then the potential for skeptics to lend support to muting the voices of those who are properly skeptical of novel claims. This could occur wittingly or unwittingly. It could result from unperceived biases or a willingness to side with authoritative scientific figures or groups. And then there are subtle (or even less subtle) methods of seduction. If scientific researches can be bought or seduced, I do not think it is unreasonable to believe that the same could occur with skeptics by those with the power and wealth to advance an agenda that is not coupled to the truth.

    Hence the need to be vigilant in the exercise of, and support for, authentic, reasoned skepticism.

  47. TS – You say you don’t want to get “bogged down” in a particular example of what you describe. I think most skeptics would surely agree with the general sentiment: that we need to turn our skeptical eyes to ourselves and make sure we’re not making assumptions or judgements that fly in the face of the evidence.

    You seem to be implying, however, that this happens among this group, that the skeptical community on the whole is not “vigilant in the exercise of, and support for, authentic, reasoned skepticism.”

    And yet you refuse to cite examples.

  48. Greeny –

    Well I didn’t “refuse” – I just opted for the moment to keep the discussion generalized to the topic of the thread.

    I have a bad habit of completely derailing the theme of a thread off onto some tangent. Just ask around. : )

    If there is wider interest in my picking an example – I could make the effort.

    And I can send to you an email at your blog site to satisfy your curiosity, if you are interested.

    And I do not mean to imply anything as to “the skeptical community on the whole” in response to your concern. That is clearly not the case by reference alone to various regular posters on this site. I was likewise not implying that religious individuals or groups on the whole lend their support to war, hate and greed.

  49. Fair enough. :) Alas, tone is difficult to interpret on the intertubes. I think I’m suffering from troll pareidolia lately due to a troll/poe/nutjob (really not sure which) who has been posting on my blog lately.

    Actually, not to derail this thread myself, it’s run its course for the most part, yeah? Check out http://sciencedefeated.wordpress.com/ … What is everyone’s take? Is this guy sincere, or is it all a joke without a punchline? He praises Lyndon LaRouche, and seems to think Noam Chomsky is a physisict. He also wrote in a comment on my blog that Kevin Trudeau “uses legitimate arguements and ideas.” But I can’t pin him down — He seems so… earnest! Be sure to check out his “biography and purpose” section for extra lawls.

  50. @TrueSkeptic: And my interest really lies in my own skepticism regarding whether the group is faithful to the concept of being reasonably skeptical in a practical sense.

    Well, you certainly aren’t. For one thing, you manifestly refuse all evidence when you are incorrect (see th 911 discussions for examples), you expect people to believe things in the total absence of any evidence, and you commit logical fallacies every time you open your mouth.

    In fact, you make a fairly good negative definition of skeptic, as in “Whatever a skeptic is, TrueSkeptic isn’t it.”

  51. Seth – if you wanted to pick a fight on 9/11, see wytworm at post #39:

    “You must mean the original bombing of the World Trade Center, which was investigated and prosecuted leaving a clear record of what happened and why, as opposed to 9/11 which was not and left no clear record of what happened and why.”

    I would agree with wytworm that there is no “clear record of what happened and why.”

    But I am not going to burden others in engaging you on your previously admitted (and presently displayed) animosity towards me.

    See if you can let it go as well.

  52. @TrueSkeptic: “But I am not going to burden others in engaging you on your previously admitted (and presently displayed) animosity towards me.”

    No, no, no. I have CONTEMPT for you, not animosity. Sheesh. Why do I always have to spell everything out for you?

    Here’s the thing: I don’t have a problem with reasoned skepticism. I have a problem with the sort of ill founded, illogical, poorly constructed, stupid claims that you tend to defend at length.

    And I don’t care who brings the claim. Anyone who starts repeating nonsense about the melting point of steel or about controlled demolitions of WTC7 is going to get the exact same amount of argument from me. And if they keep insisting that their supposed expertise trumps actual facts, I’ll have exactly as much contempt for them as I do for you.

    The thing is, in areas where there is doubt about the exact nature of a situation, such as the economy, climate change, politics; there is a great range of opinion in the skeptical movement. It is only in areas where the evidence is overwhelming for one side that those who cling to their conspiracy theories or religions are seen as ridiculous.

    In other words, it isn’t a problem with the skeptics movement that you can’t evaluate evidence. It’s a problem with you.

  53. Ok, I did have two requests for a specific example to illustrate my earlier posts, and the thread has slowed down on its own accord. And in the meantime I did think of an example that touches on all my points.

    The other night I was watching C-Span 3, where they show a lot of historical material (I recommend the channel if you have access). They presented a series of programs on Jonas Salk, and I watched one.

    I have never been a student of vaccinations, and I was not aware that in developing a vaccine for polio (using a killed virus), Salk had to overcome the scientific establishment at the time, which was firmly grounded in the belief that only weakened viruses work as vaccines. A lot of kids died or were crippled by trials using a weakened polio virus, which was capable of inflicting the disease. So one of the heroes in the field of vaccines found himself in a battle with the established scientific community and scientific doctrine at the time, which were inflicting harm.

    One of the things I have found odd about skeptic sites is that whenever the issue of vaccines pops up, it seems to whip up (in some at least) a religious fervor reaction against any questioning, doubts, or criticisms of vaccines, which is often expressed in very broad and sweeping terms.

    Again, I have never myself studied the subject in any depth (nothing more than a casual observer), but it seems fairly evident that when it comes to vaccines, they need to be viewed on a case by case basis. It does not seem appropriate to adopt a dogmatic viewpoint within this field of science of the type that Salk himself confronted.

    I was shocked at how military personnel were threatened with court martial if they refused an anthrax vaccination, for which there appeared to be serious, legitimate doubts and concerns. It was quite awhile ago when I saw some sort of documentary on that one, but you could not pay me enough money to take that vaccine for something that is not infectious and where there is presently no significant risk for the disease. (I also do not take flu vaccines when after the first and last time I did so it made me sick for a couple days and I got the flu later anyway.)

    In terms of the point I was making in the earlier posts, this is an area where both profound government and corporate interests can be involved. The government and CDC can be institutionally defensive about vaccines out of concerns for public confidence in their vaccination programs, which of course can impact their effectiveness. Pharmaceuticals who manufacture the product have both profit and liability interests at issue. I do know enough to understand that both the government and the drug companies had very sound reasons for removing mercury from vaccines (irrespective of debates on the research, as there is simply no need to be injecting a known neurotoxin into children). And the government and pharmaceuticals both play a large role in the scientific research on vaccines, which creates the potential for conflicts.

    I am sure that there is not a uniform view among skeptics or skeptic sites on this issue (just as there is rarely a uniformity of beliefs within or among religions), but from my limited observations, it does appear to rise to the level of dogmatism for some. And there appears to be a disproportionate number of vaccine experts among skeptics, for what is a fairly esoteric field of science. I would have to do a lot more study to have a strong opinion on any particular vaccine, and my undergraduate education included biology, physical chemistry, organic chemistry and biochemistry.

    So anyway, this feature of skeptic sites struck me as an oddity for a field of investigation that has been in flux for more than two centuries and that is not particularly susceptible to broad generalizations, as opposed to case by case review. (They are working on an AIDS vaccine and you could not pay me to take that one either.)

  54. And there appears to be a disproportionate number of vaccine experts among skeptics, for what is a fairly esoteric field of science.

    ———-

    Yay! We have a germ theory denier! I only know one other blog that has one of those!

  55. Well I am sure that you are one of the experts – Seth. As I stated – I am not, which is demonstrated by my not even knowing that “germ theory” was part of the controversy. And I certainly did not mention anything about that.

    But I think you understood that when you wrote your description of me, which would make your statement “disingenuous.” ; )

    I thought the principal issues were that of safety and efficacy – as they were when Salk broke new ground in this science (as I described).

    But maybe you would volunteer for a couple of doses of anthrax and AIDS vaccines? : )

  56. @TrueSkeptic: “But I think you understood that when you wrote your description of me, which would make your statement “disingenuous.” ; )”

    You aren’t? My bad. I don’t actually read your posts very carefully. I’m more lazy than I am dishonest.

    Scanning your comment again, I don’t see your point. Maybe you could clarify: What particular dogmatic view is it that you think that skeptics have about vaccination?

  57. I understand lazy. I have a paper thin Air Mac, and I can lay down and be a slug while engaging in work avoidance on this site. No true responsibilities this weekend – hence all the posting.

    For clarification of the point – I am going to be the lazy one (because I composed three long posts) and send you back to the beginning of the thread and ask you to read ahead on through my three long posts. You really need the context. I first agreed with a point that had already been made. On request, I then provided a general description of my contribution. And then on further request, I provided a specific example of my contribution/concerns/observations.

    The theme before I arrived included whether skeptics are sufficiently skeptical themselves about matters of importance to them, which otherwise might give rise to a skeptics’ dogma or fundamentalism.

    If you do all that, you may have your answer, but if not, I’ll be asleep anyway.

  58. @TrueSkeptic: “and ask you to read ahead on through my three long posts.”

    Why would I bother? I know from context that the answer to my question isn’t in them. So, again: what’s your point? What view of vaccination do you think skeptics have that is dogmatic?

  59. TS: you’re really off base on a lot of that.

    Were scientists skeptical of Salk’s claims at first? Sure. Luckily, he had the evidence to back up his claims. That’s the point.

    Unfortunately (for the deniers), the anti-vax people do not have the evidence to back them up. Quite to the contrary: the evidence roundly disputes their claims. Period.

    Also, lets talk about moving goalposts. The anti-vax people blamed rising rates of autism diagnosis on thiomersal in vaccines… and yet rates rose in Europe as well, where thiomersal was not used. Now, it’s been removed vaccines in the U.S. Regardless of the reasons behind that, shoudln’t this lay to rest the vaccines=autism debate, right? Well, no apparently. People opposed to vaccination will continue to find new reasons to be afraid of what has been shown time and time again to be a safe and effective means of protecting against infectious disease.

    Very few people here, myself included, would ever claim to be “experts” on vaccination. But if you turn your skeptical eye to vaccines, you’ll find (simplified here, of course) two groups making claims: one claims that vaccines are a quite safe and effective means of preventing disease in individuals, in turn lowering the prevalence of disease and the need for treating the disease itself. The other group claims that they are a danger to you and your family. One group has the consensus of scientists, physicians and study after study after study to back it up. The other side has, as it’s most vociferous proponent, Jenny McCarthy.

  60. Skeptics apparently ain’t what they used to be: a 911 conspiracy theorist AND a anti vaccinationist on this thread – wheres the holocaust denier?

  61. @TrueSkeptic:

    There is a danger attaching to uncritical acceptance of scientific research, especially where the funding, sponsoring or control of the research creates a potential conflict of interest.

    Sorry I haven’t been participating much – busy weekend. But I did want to address this one point. I agree that there are always concerns with scientific research in terms of where the funding for the research comes from and ensuring the validity of the work. However, that’s what’s great about science. If a study is done well, the science will provide the answer neutrally. What therefore becomes important is evaluating the study itself and ensuring that the methodology used is appropriate and good science.

    I’ll refer you to Stephen Novella’s blog about this topic where he discusses this topic. He also references a great article by Alex Tabarrok’s and his analysis of this question. I’ll quote the relevant points:

    1) In evaluating any study try to take into account the amount of background noise. That is, remember that the more hypotheses which are tested and the less selection which goes into choosing hypotheses the more likely it is that you are looking at noise.

    2) Bigger samples are better. (But note that even big samples won’t help to solve the problems of observational studies which is a whole other problem).

    3) Small effects are to be distrusted.

    4) Multiple sources and types of evidence are desirable.

    5) Evaluate literatures not individual papers.

    6) Trust empirical papers which test other people’s theories more than empirical papers which test the author’s theory.

    7) As an editor or referee, don’t reject papers that fail to reject the null.

    My point is that skeptics are very commonly skeptical of scientific research and absolutely don’t take it at face value. That’s a big part of being a skeptic.

  62. ” I agree that there are always concerns with scientific research in terms of where the funding for the research comes from and ensuring the validity of the work. … What therefore becomes important is evaluating the study itself and ensuring that the methodology used is appropriate and good science.”

    Masala –

    Your statement above is absolutely correct. But what it takes in order to effectively evaluate the study and ensure that the methodology is appropriate and good science is no small task, especially when (as you acknowledge on the point of conflicts) there can be pressure to come up with a particular outcome.

    So you either have the education, time, access, and motivation to check a controversial, disputed study yourself — or you do not. If you do not, then you are left to trusting authority. And you can make a reasoned judgment as to whether to trust a particular authority based upon any apparent conflicts and their history of credibility.

    But adopting a default position of trusting authority in a field with some pretty strong conflicts in play on matters of new (as opposed to established) research would not appear to me to be a hallmark characteristic of “skeptics.”

    I can understand taking a practical approach of accepting authority until and unless it is rebutted. But I have seen articles posted and applauded that contain vitriolic diatribes in opposition to people who are simply asking for an independent study to be conducted that would control for a potential harm that concerns them. These articles seem to express a dogmatic demand of allegiance to, trust in and acceptance of authority, rejecting calls for further investigation.

  63. Some further practical examples of the point, which do not involve skeptics (to my knowledge).

    First, the evidence of WMD in Iraq pre-war. We know now that the Administration put heavy pressure on rank and file professionals to skew the evidence. They then chose a person of high credibility to present the case to the U.N. – Colin Powell. Powell says now that he was very skeptical of the claims based upon his knowledge at the time, but he agreed nonetheless to lend his credibility to the cause and to make the case in very definitive terms.

    Powell demanded, however, in turn, that the head of the CIA, Tenet, sit right behind him, as a public demonstration that the CIA was backing what Powell was being asked to state. So that if he was going to put his credibility on the line – so was the CIA.

    It’s not science, but the principles are the same in terms of the handling of evidence and the seduction and misuse of individuals and institutions for purposes of exploiting their credibility. The end result being that a group in power can effectively skew evidence for an agenda that is unrelated to an objective analysis of evidence.

  64. Second example (again unrelated to skeptics to my knowledge).

    I could never get myself motivated to look into the whole debate about human impact on global warming – just never high enough of a priority for me to devote the time, which I assumed would involve a considerable task, given my perception of the depth of research that was being referenced.

    I was struck, however, by the boldness of some of the claims, in asserting to have a definitive answer. This seemed odd given both the nature of the object of the scientific inquiry and the push back from other respected scientists. I was also taken aback by the widespread use of ridicule to address people who questioned the human cause side. I view the use of ridicule as a big red flag, when used in matter that appears to be legitimately open to question.

    So finally I looked into it. What I found was that the claims of definitive answers were a joke. I read accounts of specific undertakings to skew the evidence that I was able to verify had occurred. And then you have a respected figure, credible to many, Al Gore, going on a road show to lend his credibility to skewed research.

    So anyway, this stuff does happen. Groups with agendas can skew scientific claims and research. And as I stated, when you have both the power/wealth to fund, sponsor or control the research and the power to significantly control the public message, this can be a very dangerous combination, where the truth is concerned.

  65. @TrueSkeptic: Sure, that’s always a danger. That’s why it’s important to be skeptical of your own skepticism. I think someone already mentioned this earlier – skepticism is a journey and a way of thinking. We are all susceptible to making mistakes. It’s up to us to keep each other honest and to keep ourselves in a state of constant questioning, ensuring we can review the evidence and are using the right methods.

  66. Greeny –

    The real point of the vaccination example is that you cannot make sweeping, generalized claims about vaccinations. It just doesn’t work – on either side.

    Although I have not spent any real time or effort to review what is being said by groups who assert “All vaccines bad,” my guess is that they have a hard-core, religious-like, and dogmatic view of the subject, with an irrational knee-jerk reaction to any and all suggestions or evidence opposed to their dogma.

    And I can understand the attraction to battling such a group by fighting fire with fire – not giving an in inch, but that’s also how one loses credibility.

    The flip side here “All vaccines good” is historically and scientifically simply unsound. And such a position seems comprised of the same religious, dogmatic attitude of “All vaccines bad.”

    If someone asked you to do so, would you really roll up your sleeve and take injections of Anthrax and AIDS vaccines right now?

    It’s just not a all black and white — all good or all bad subject. It is an area of trial and error still today — just as it was in Salk’s time.

    It is not properly a subject of sweeping dogmatic pronouncements – especially (it would seem to me) where there is an emphasis on skepticism.

  67. “That’s why it’s important to be skeptical of your own skepticism. I think someone already mentioned this earlier – skepticism is a journey and a way of thinking.”

    Masala –

    I agree 100%. That is why I earlier applauded this thread and those who expressed this sentiment before I jumped in. Good discussion and good job introducing it.

  68. @TrueSkeptic: The real point of the vaccination example is that you cannot make sweeping, generalized claims about vaccinations. It just doesn’t work – on either side.

    Of course you can. For example, I can say this: Vaccination, taken as a whole, are more helpful than harmful.

    I can say, If more people get the flu vaccine, it is very likely that fewer people will get the flu.

    I can say, If more people are vaccinated against measles, fewer people will get measles.

    Those are broad, sweeping statements, and not only that, they are empirically true statements.

    Now, what “dogma” is it that you think many skeptics accept about vaccines?

  69. As for your defense of “sweeping, generalized” claims:

    Your reference to flu and measles, those are specific claims about specific vaccines that could be properly made if backed by sound research, which I assume is the case.

    As for: “Vaccination, taken as a whole, [is] more helpful than harmful.” This is not an acceptable response to legitimate doubts, concerns, inquiry or requests for independent investigation as to any particular vaccine.

    As for: “Now, what “dogma” is it that you think many skeptics accept about vaccines?”

    What I expressed is my observation of a dogmatic attitude on this subject. Here are a few examples of that in terms of what occurs on a skeptics’ site when the subject is introduced, as took place on this thread:

    Exhibit One: “Yay! We have a germ theory denier! I only know one other blog that has one of those!” (#87)

    Exhibit Two: “Skeptics apparently ain’t what they used to be: a 911 conspiracy theorist AND a anti vaccinationist on this thread – wheres the holocaust denier?” (#93)

    Acts of scorn, ridicule and shunning for the temerity of stating that it is a subject area for legitimate debate and disagreement – when viewed on a case by case basis (as I very clearly limited my remarks). Such responses are evidence of a dogmatic or fundamentalist attitude, consistent with what I indicated I had observed in the past. Others had already raised the concern as to whether skeptics were susceptible to their own forms of dogma or fundamentalism – as opposed to being faithful to a skeptical approach and skeptical reasoning.

  70. @TrueSkeptic:
    I’ll grant you that the fact that the measels vaccine, flu vaccine, etc. are effective does not by fiat mean that all vaccines are by fiat effective and safe.

    But…

    You initally expressed that skeptics here and elsewhere subscribe to a dogmatic acceptance that vaccines = good. But when skeptics react against anti-vaxxers, we are reacting against denial of, primarily, the childhood vaccine suites, the flu vaccine and (to a lesser extent and for completely different reasons) the HPV vaccine. These vaccines have indeed been shown time and time again to be safe and efective.

    It is these vaccines on which the anti-vax movement focuses, and it is these vaccines which you can be damn sure that people are talking about when they are criticizing vaccine denialism.

    I for one don’t know squat about the anthrax vaccine… But anthrax is bacterial and thus an anthrax vaccine is a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT animal from viral vaccines like those mentioned above.

    Find me one skeptic who will blindly and dogmatically accept that something labeled as a vaccine is by fiat safe and effective, and I’ll buy you a Coke.

  71. @TrueSkeptic: “Such responses are evidence of a dogmatic or fundamentalist attitude, consistent with what I indicated I had observed in the past.”

    Ah! I get it! You think its dogmatic when people express their skepticism about your stupid claims!

    You just don’t actually understand what the word “dogmatic” means. Dogmatic would be if I continued to insist, against all evidence, that you were a germ theory denier. Of course, I didn’t.

    You, on the other hand, have never backed down on 911, despite huge mountains of evidence showing that you are simply wrong. THAT’s and example of being dogmatic.

    I hope that cleared things up for you.

  72. @TrueSkeptic: As for: “Vaccination, taken as a whole, [is] more helpful than harmful.” This is not an acceptable response to legitimate doubts, concerns, inquiry or requests for independent investigation as to any particular vaccine.

    ——–

    No, its a broad, sweeping claim about vaccination. It isn’t meant to be some other thing. The logical fallacy there is called “moving the goalposts”, where you asked for one thing and then, receiving it, complained that it was not some other thing.

  73. Greeny –

    You will notice that I did not list any of your posts as an Exhibit for my point, because you did not shoot first and ask questions later, as others are prone to do. You got those two things in the proper order for a good skeptic. : )

    As for your theory about what other skeptics may or may not agree to if they had the patience and inclination to stop shooting long enough to stop, listen and consider any particular point on vaccines that you would regard as reasonable, you may be right. On a few occasions, I let the door-to-door religious zealots in just to see what we could agree upon in a patient, friendly and respectful discussion (sometimes they surprise you).

    But as a practical matter a shoot first ask questions later dogmatic mind-set on a blog site, if adopted by enough members, will kill any reasoned discussion before it gets off the ground. In effect, it has a censorship effect, which in some cases is intended, I believe. Either way, it is inconsistent with what is a proper skeptics’ outlook (in my view), which again is the theme of the thread.

  74. “You, on the other hand, have never backed down on 911, despite huge mountains of evidence showing that you are simply wrong.”

    I am not sure how one can be wrong about questioning the sufficiency of an investigation, the sufficiency of evidence, and the sufficiency of a cohesive conclusion about something, when no authority claims to have accomplished any of these things.

    But if such skepticism on my part makes me wrong – well then guilty as charged. : )

    I think this probably qualifies as another dogmatic subject area on skeptic sites.

  75. “I hope that cleared things up for you.”

    Seth – I do not think there can be any real question but that you are the ultimate and final authority (and certainly the last word) concerning matters of disagreement on this site.

    As such, I will accept your opinion as the final verdict on this topic.

  76. @TrueSkeptic: I am not sure how one can be wrong about questioning the sufficiency of an investigation, the sufficiency of evidence, and the sufficiency of a cohesive conclusion about something, when no authority claims to have accomplished any of these things.

    Well, you could claim something like “The second floor of a skyscraper has to hold up the weight of every floor above it” and fail entirely to revise your argument after the laughter stops. That would be one example. You actually claimed to have a positive argument that plane impacts did not cause the collapse of WTC 1 and 2, and despite being shown to be wrong on every factual point, you maintain your view.

    That is dogmatic.

  77. @TrueSkeptic: Seth – I do not think there can be any real question but that you are the ultimate and final authority (and certainly the last word) concerning matters of disagreement on this site.

    ——————

    I can see where you got that impression, but again, I’m afraid I have to correct you (such weary work, pointing out your errors). You see, true skeptic, it isn’t so much that I’m always right as that you are always wrong.

  78. “You see, true skeptic, it isn’t so much that I’m always right as that you are always wrong.”

    I know, I know – Seth.

    But at least I am not the only one who is wrong:

    “Lynn Margulis, distinguished professor in the department of geosciences at the University of Massachusetts, recently released a statement calling for a new investigation of the 9/11 terror attacks and decrying the American government’s account of how the violence occurred as a ‘fraud.’

    Among her many distinctions, Margulis was presented with the National Medal of Science in 1999, America’s highest honor for scientific achievement. Margulis’ research interests include cell biology and microbial evolution.”

    But Seth, if you used your same powers of deduction that you applied to me to conclude that I must really not be an accomplished trial attorney with degrees in physics and philosophy from Rice University, you could probably likewise deduce that Professor Margulis is not really whom she appears to be.

    And even if she is, so what if she was awarded America’s highest honor for scientific achievement. What’s that compared to your dazzling brilliance? I am sure that you could school her like you have schooled have me. ; )

  79. And Seth, here is another person who cannot possibly be who he says he is:

    “Melvin Goodman, PhD, is another former State Department employee who signed the petition to reinvestigate 9/11. He served as a Senior Analyst at the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Dr. Goodman also later served as Division Chief of the CIA’s Office of Soviet Affairs and as Professor of International Security at the National War College, 1986 – 2004.

    In testimony before a 2005 Congressional briefing on the 9/11 Commission Report, Dr. Goodman said, “I want to talk about the [9/11] Commission itself, about the flawed process of the Commission and finally about the conflict of interest within the Commission that is extremely important to understand the failure of the Commission. … The final report is ultimately a coverup. I don’t know how else to describe it.”

    Congress clearly should have asked for your opinion instead of his. Where does he come off being so skeptical?

  80. And Seth – those two were just a couple of random samples from literally hundreds of military personnel, intelligence personnel, scientists, engineers, PhDs, military and commercial pilots who all seem to have very serious doubts, if not outright disbelief in the government’s conspiracy theory on the attacks.

    Perhaps if you could offer a course in say “Skepticism 101” – you could teach them a thing or two about authentic skepticism, instead of their misguided version of skepticism.

  81. @TrueSkeptic: And even if she is, so what if she was awarded America’s highest honor for scientific achievement. What’s that compared to your dazzling brilliance? I am sure that you could school her like you have schooled have me. ; )

    ———–

    Depends. I mean, she’s a microbiologist. So, yes, if she, like you, was completely wrong about how weight is distributed in a large building, I would feel absolutely comfortable “schooling” her on that subject. Because she, like you, would be totally full of shit.

    But I don’t know what claims these people are actually making, so I can’t say. All I know is that the claims YOU have made are stupid, and show a total lack of knowledge about any of the areas of your so called expertise.

    Again, you mistake my absolute contempt for you for a general attitude about other people.

  82. @TrueSkeptic: Perhaps if you could offer a course in say “Skepticism 101″ – you could teach them a thing or two about authentic skepticism, instead of their misguided version of skepticism.

    ——————

    I’m going to try to put this into language that you might understand.

    Let’s say that Timmy and Tommy both think that their mom has magic powers. Timmy thinks this because she can operate an electric can opener. Tommy thinks this because he has seen her levitate a car out of a ditch. I can think that Timmy is a freaking moron (Timmy is you in this example, by the way) and think that Tommy may have a point. Your mistake is that you think that just because Tommy agrees with Timmy’s conclusion, Tommy would reach that conclusion on Timmy’s evidence.

    But Tommy, like me, probably thinks that Timmy is a total asshat.

  83. “All I know is that the claims YOU have made are stupid, and show a total lack of knowledge about any of the areas of your so called expertise.”

    Ah yes, you keep saying that. Well if I had made any of the claims as you characterize them, as opposed to what I really wrote, I might believe the same thing as well.

    Shall we give everyone a practical demonstration – Seth? Sure – why not.

    I made a post in this thread at #86, making some general comments about vaccination.

    And here Seth is how you describe (at #87) what I wrote: “Yay! We have a germ theory denier! “

    Now I said nothing about “germ theory,” much less coming anywhere near “denying it.” In fact, I had described the accomplishments of Jonas Salk in developing the polio vaccine. (How can you read something and be so far off?)

    And when confronted with these undeniable facts, your explanation (#89):

    “My bad. I don’t actually read your posts very carefully. I’m more lazy than I am dishonest.”

    Well in the face of your non-stop insults directed at me, I will nonetheless make an effort to be gracious here and accept that your misstating my positions on this site is not an act “dishonesty,” but that you admittedly do not read what I write very carefully.

  84. Hello kids! This is your friendly neighborhood Skepchick reminding you to keep things civil, please :) So far, we’re staying on the edge and I appreciate it – let’s not degrade into personal attacks or individual wars :)

    Thank you!

  85. @TrueSkeptic: Well if I had made any of the claims as you characterize them, as opposed to what I really wrote, I might believe the same thing as well.

    ———

    Well, let’s take an example. here you write: “And as I reflect on those equations – yes there is an inherent flaw in them. Think about it. Floor number 2 is supporting the 100+ floors above it.

    So you in fact made exactly that claim, exactly as I characterize it. And it shows that you don’t even have a layman’s knowledge of structural engineering. So anything that you brand as your analysis of anything having to do with the WTC collapse is obviously total horseshit. Wouldn’t you agree?

  86. Seth my statement was correct in the very detailed and specific context it was made – and the quote is also self-evident on its face.

    Your continued characterization of it as “stupid” is not only a violation of Masala’s admonition to you to refrain from insults, it is also a function of what you have conceded(#89):

    “My bad. I don’t actually read your posts very carefully. I’m more lazy than I am dishonest.”

    Given your persistence, if I read your quote more carefully, maybe I should conclude that you are extremely lazy, but nonetheless still substantially dishonest.

    You really should follow Masala’s advice, but I know that you won’t. So insult away, I’m off to the office.

    Good luck to you Seth – I’ve known people who suffer from persistent depression and migraines as you disclose (perhaps as an explanation for your conduct) on your Blog site, and so I should probably cut you some slack and have been attempting to do so.

  87. “Seth my statement was correct in the very detailed and specific context it was made – and the quote is also self-evident on its face.”

    ——————

    Self-evident on its face? Is that supposed to mean something? Is the specific context some alternate reality where the WTC was actually a gigantic ziggarat made of fireproof styrofoam?

  88. …. long day.

    Seth – that is a relatively polite question (no direct insults), and so I’ll try to encourage a polite dialogue with a straightforward answer.

    That was a long time ago, but I did go back and read the discussion, although there is a lot of links and references to articles that you’d also have to go back and read to understand the discussion in context. I just looked at one Article – the one you sited in response to my comment, which does not in any sense undercut or rebut my comment.

    Someone had written an article analyzing how many upper floors a single floor could support (near the levels of the plane impact) under static conditions (as opposed to where supports above have failed and the floors above are accelerating downward). In the analysis, the author calculated how many additional floors could be added before this upper mid-level floor collapses due to the extra weight under static conditions. Having calculated the failure point under static conditions, he then calculates whether the upper floors alone under gravitational acceleration could match or surpass the force he calculated for failure under static questions. He not only concludes that the upper floors accelerated by gravity can surpass the load capacity he calculated for a single floor, but he also calculates the time it would take to do so, in an effort to account for the near free-fall rate of collapse.

    If I recall correctly, he then merely multiplies his calculation for the time it takes for this one floor to collapse by the number of lower floors to achieve a sum total of the time increments created by the resistance of each collapsing floor, again in order to recreate the observed time lapse for the building after collapse initiation.

    I then made a casual observation that the method appeared to be conceptually wrong because the lower floors, which support many more upper floors under static conditions can not be modeled by a static analysis of the upper floors, which have a lower static load capacity. As such, you cannot simply perform calculations on the upper floors and multiply the results on the assumption that these calculations will remain valid for the lower floors.

    The Article you sited in response (claiming that it rebutted my observation) was just a very general article regarding how buildings are built. The article described the pyramid principle of constructing tall buildings where the lower floors are larger and stronger, which then support progressively lighter and weaker floors as you build upwards. As with a pyramid, you’d need to start with a progressively larger and stronger base in order to build progressively taller buildings, which seem to max out under the limitations of this approach.

    Later engineering improvements allowed the WTC to be built very high, without progressively smaller floors, due in part to the innovation involved with the outer steel skin of these towers.

    The Article nonetheless verified my point, which is that a significant fraction of the bottom floors of the WTC were built using much stronger structural steel supports capable of supporting much heavier static loads than the upper floors, still applying the pyramid principal within this structure. The bottom was still a much stronger base and anchor for the structure.

    As such, the author makes a mistake in ignoring these differences and just multiplying his calculations for the upper floors to be applied to the lower floors – cannot be done. The Article in effect presented flawed quantitative calculations based upon flawed assumptions. It was theoretical hand-waving nonsense.

    The only reason that article was cited at all was that NIST completely avoided/punted trying to quantitatively calculate or account for the high rate of collapse. NIST did not even try to account for how the buildings failed after collapse initiation, which indeed would be a very difficult thing to do or model, given the rate of failure and the very strong steel base of the Towers.

    So yes – it is true that the second floor in a static condition has to support the gravitational load of the floors above it – just as the author was describing the static load that the upper floors could bear.

    So yes, the fact that the second floor is able to withstand the static gravitational load of the upper 100+ floors is both correct and self-evident. And the author’s lazy calculations to make an attempt at a quantitative explanation were flawed. Whereas NIST did not even try. It simply hand-waved the argument, which from where I come from would be regarded as a bunch of scientific mumbo Jumbo.

    So there it is – Seth.

    I hate to remind you again, but your explanation for misinterpreting my posts still seems to hold true: “My bad. I don’t actually read your posts very carefully. I’m more lazy than I am dishonest.”

  89. @TrueSkeptic: So yes – it is true that the second floor in a static condition has to support the gravitational load of the floors above it – just as the author was describing the static load that the upper floors could bear.

    ———-

    No, it isn’t true. The second floor of a skyscraper does not bear the load of the floor above it. If it did, the structure would collapse. To quote an article from How Stuff Works

    …all the weight in the building gets transferred directly to the vertical columns. This concentrates the downward force caused by gravity into the relatively small areas where the columns rest at the building’s base…

    One major advantage of the steel skeleton structure is that the outer walls — called the curtain wall — need only to support their own weight.

    And that’s why you aren’t a skeptic, and why I don’t bother to read your posts very carefully, TrueSkeptic. Because you don’t do good research and when presented with new facts, you don’t change your opinion.

  90. Seth you have to understand the context in which statements are being made. This requires careful reading – something that you already admit that you do not do.

    All your quoted text does is explain the mechanics of how the gravitational load is supported – that does not change the fact that a gravitational load is supported.

    I was the one criticizing an analysis that tried to explain the free-fall of the Towers by looking at what would be required to overload a single floor. This is where the careful reading comes into play – Seth – it was me – if you go back and look at it – who was criticizing an analysis based upon calculations of a gravitational static load to overcome an isolated floor. I was accepting the author’s description of his analysis and what his calculations purported to show and explaining why it does compute. You then criticize me for using the author’s premise against him.

    How do we explain your persistent misunderstanding of what is being said?

    By this admission of yours: “My bad. I don’t actually read your posts very carefully. I’m more lazy than I am dishonest.”

  91. And now that I go back and look at it more closely – Seth, I was responding to a quote from you. You were the one who introduced the analysis of looking at how many floors a single floor can hold up. It was your quote below to which I was responding. You introduced the whole concept that you are now ridiculing. Amazing. From Seth:

    By dividing the total vertical connection capacity (29,000,000 lb) of a floor by the total vertical load applied to the connections (2,500,000 lb), the number of floors that can be supported by an intact floor is calculated to be a total of 12 floors or 11 additional floors.

    You are one of a kind – dude. : )

  92. And now that I go back and look at it more closely – Seth, I was responding to a quote from you.

    ————–

    Well, that just isn’t true. Jesus, how hard is it to tell the truth?

  93. @TrueSkeptic: Seth you have to understand the context in which statements are being made. This requires careful reading – something that you already admit that you do not do.

    ————

    No, it doesn’t. There is no context in this reality that makes your statement even remotely accurate. It’s just a fact that skyscrapers aren’t built like pyramids.

  94. Seth –

    You cited to the Article that described a single floor holding up the floors above it. (Yes that was you and I can prove it.)

    And you cited to the Article that described how skyscrapers still rely upon the same principles as building the pyramids. (Yes that was you and I can prove it.)

    You see Seth – not only do I have a degree in physics, but as an experienced trial attorney, I am accustomed to gathering evidence to prove my arguments. Whereas you use the “just say anything” method of argument.

    Just go ahead and deny the above two facts and I’ll cite to the specific posts of the specific thread and I’ll cite to both of your Articles and I’ll give links to both of them and the quotes that prove that everything I am saying is absolutely true.

    I dare you. : )

    You’re hopeless.

  95. and you cited to the Article that described how skyscrapers still rely upon the same principles as building the pyramids. (Yes that was you and I can prove it.)

    ———-

    You can prove about 1/5 of it, actually. I did ask you to explain why you thought the NIST report was incorrect. I did not introduce the concept I’m ridiculing, and the “How Things Work” article does not support your absurd contention that skyscrapers are built like pyramids (unless by “same concepts” you mean that they both have to obey the laws of physics).

    The concept I’m ridiculing is yours, the idea that the twin towers were built like a pyramid, in which each floor must hold up the weight of every floor above it. This claim was made in response to an article I cited, the NIST FAQ. I refuted your absurd and ignorant claim by referencing a basic article about skyscraper construction.

    Let’s quote the article I linked to, shall we?

    In this giant three-dimensional grid — called the super structure — all the weight in the building gets transferred directly to the vertical columns. This concentrates the downward force caused by gravity into the relatively small areas where the columns rest at the building’s base. This concentrated force is then spread out in the substructure under the building.

    Wow. Now, let’s contrast what you said.

    Think about it. Floor number 2 is supporting the 100+ floors above it.

    That’s a direct contradiction. And you were dismissing a specific section in a NIST FAQ which said

    The vertical capacity of the connections supporting an intact floor below the level of collapse was adequate to carry the load of 11 additional floors if the load was applied gradually and 6 additional floors if the load was applied suddenly (as was the case).

    So we see that I did not introduce the concept that I am now ridiculing. I am ridiculing your stubborn refusal to join the reality based community.

  96. Seth you did it again, as you admit:

    “I don’t actually read your posts very carefully. I’m more lazy than I am dishonest.”

    Although this time it is pretty clear that you were more dishonest than lazy – instead of the other way around.

  97. You are the one who described my post in which I noted Jonas Salk’s developing the polio vaccine as being a denial of “germ theory.”

    And I did not think you could misrepresent something any worse than that – but you did.

  98. @TrueSkeptic: Although this time it is pretty clear that you were more dishonest than lazy – instead of the other way around.
    ———–

    You threatened to link to things that I actually went ahead and linked to. So go ahead, TS, explain why I’m dishonest.

    Or, you could explain again how the “How Thing’s Work” article (which I quote) supports your contention that Floor 2 of the WTC had to support 100+ floors above it, or how an article that says that 1 floor could support a 12 floor static load was actually supporting all of the floors (more than 12) above it.

    Go ahead. Make my day.

    You seem to think that I should be ashamed of not hanging on your every word. Whereas, I think you should be ashamed of spouting a never ending fountain of bullshit.

  99. @TrueSkeptic: And I did not think you could misrepresent something any worse than that – but you did.

    —————-

    As you keep reminding people, I am always willing to admit when I make a mistake. So show me the actual mistake this time.

  100. Look Seth – the one thing we can agree upon is that you are either lazy or dishonest or some combination of the two.

    Your claim that you are lazily misreading what I say or your dishonestly using my criticism of a theory to say I was supporting it – all amounts to the same thing. You are the “Asshole” you admit to being on your blog site.

    It’s pointless to put it together for you, because it won’t matter to you and no one else is probably reading, but because I said I would do it — I’ll do it. But it’s late and you’ll have to wait until later. I have clients who count on me and I have to get work in the morning. I do not know what the hell it is you do.

  101. @TrueSkeptic:
    TS,
    Let’s just lay this out nice and clearly:

    Seth was mistaken when he called you a germ theory denier. Has has openly conceded that. He did so with snark, to be sure, but he clearly withdrew that assertion. Period. Let’s move on.

    You continue to claim to have evidence for things Seth has supposedly said, yet have yet to provide proof of your claims. Seth, on the other hand, has linked to the relevant passages which explicitly and unmistakably corroborate Seth’s take in contrast to yours.

    When confronted with this fact, rather than admit you were wrong as Seth did, you ignore the evidence, and fall back on again reference Seth’s “I don’t read your posts carefully” quote.

    So, make good on your promise from comment 131, TS. Go ahead, I dare you:

    You see Seth – not only do I have a degree in physics, but as an experienced trial attorney, I am accustomed to gathering evidence to prove my arguments. Whereas you use the “just say anything” method of argument.

    Just go ahead and deny the above two facts and I’ll cite to the specific posts of the specific thread and I’ll cite to both of your Articles and I’ll give links to both of them and the quotes that prove that everything I am saying is absolutely true.

    I dare you. : )

  102. But it’s late and you’ll have to wait until later. I have clients who count on me and I have to get work in the morning. I do not know what the hell it is you do.

    ——————-

    No you don’t. And since I don’t use my fictional status as an experienced trial attorney as a pathetic attempt to establish credibility, it really doesn’t matter, does it?

    By the way, Skeptical Male, if you are still reading this: what TrueSkeptic is doing by referencing my various character flaws as revealed on my blog is an example of argument Ad Hominem.

  103. No problem – Greeny.

    Wading through all of Seth’s misstatements is no small task, but I am encouraged by doing it for someone other than just him. So stay-tuned. I will lay it all out. It will involve a lot of back and forth cutting and pasting. I do have a job, however, but I expect I can get to it tonight.

    As for my alleged fictional status – Seth, all we need is an acceptable volunteer to verify who I am. I offered the job to Rebecca, but she passed. How about Dr. Steven Novella down at Yale? He is about 40 Minutes away from me. I just need someone acceptable to both of us who will agree to do the job. I’d be interested in speaking to a well educated member of the Skeptic community in any event.

    But Greeny – I have a question for you in the meantime. How does Seth’s previous mischaracterization of my comments affect your view of his credibility on this issue?

    Yes he did concede what he did on that occasion, but he also had no choice, because it was so black and white. And it was clear to multiple people involved in a current thread.

    He has not demonstrated anything here. He has made claims as he did before, and he is asking you, in effect, to trust him on characterizing snippets taken from long exchanges and long articles and requiring me to prove that he is not misstating things again. I have denied, again, how he is characterizing my posts. You just witnessed a similar dispute between us, where you were able to verify that he was guilty of misstating my position.

    So to whom should you be giving the benefit of the doubt when presented with another such dispute between him and me?

    I can tell you that in the world of courtroom proof (or in science), once you demonstrate a willingness to misstate the facts, as Seth did with his “germ theory denial” false accusation, people don’t take your word for anything, because you’ve just blown your credibility. The burden of proof then shifts to such a person. I would think that the same principle would hold true for the Skeptic community.

    His claims should no longer be accepted on faith. His accusations that I have violated fundamental principles of physics (me the one with a degree in physics) is the same as his accusation of my denying germ theory (me someone who comes from three generations of M.D.s, including my grandfather who was the chief Naval Surgeon at Bethesda Hospital and, therefore, the personal physician of the President of the United States – Dr. Novella could verify all these things.)

    Seth tried to compensate for his previous false accusation, by making another one that people could not simply verify for themselves, as was the case with his first. If you want to give Seth the benefit of the doubt on this new accusation, that is your choice. I am just curious as to why you would do that.

  104. Seth – just agree to Dr. Novella and I’ll contact him with an introduction that he has been selected to resolve a matter on Rebecca’s site and ask him if he’d be willing to take on the job. I’ll go to his office – we can use his computer (and maybe phone) to verify all of my credentials and I’ll buy him lunch, AND I’ll also present to him my rebuttal to your latest claim and ask him if to judge the legitimacy of your accusations.

    So Seth – just say that you agree to this approach and I’ll make the call. What do you say – bro?

    And Kimbo – as for whether the issue of my skepticism over the government’s story of 9/11 is still warranted, I refer you to posts 113, 114, and 115 above in this thread and ask for reaction.

  105. @TrueSkeptic: Haha, no way am I getting involved in this again. You guys are on your own. I’m on vacation. I’ll stick to passively reading this thread (well, except for this and my last comment). I checked up on this thread and was surprised to see it was still going. And I see you’re up to your old tricks: Dr. Novella’s office? Seriously, where do you come up with these things? Hahahahaha, ahhh. Good times.

  106. @TrueSkeptic:

    I have a question for you in the meantime. How does Seth’s previous mischaracterization of my comments affect your view of his credibility on this issue?

    Come on. Everyone makes mistakes. Seth did indeed characterize your statement, but was very quick to retract his assertion. I respect that far more than someone who persists in their assertions in the face of evidence to the contrary.

  107. … checking in from the office.

    Dr. Novella’s office? Seriously, where do you come up with these things?

    Kimbo – what’s the problem?

    Coming from a family of doctors myself and having been involved in dozens of depositions of doctors over the years, I can tell you that they usually prefer to discuss their opinions at their office for their own convenience. But we could do it anywhere. Like I said, I am quite close to him. Everyone has to eat and I’d pay for lunch or dinner at his favorite restaurant, and if there is wireless access – I could bring my laptop and we are all set.

    We could choose a completely independent scientist or attorney — I can pick up the phone and call some of the top scientists and attorneys inside and outside of this country and they know who I am, my accomplishments and would address me on a first name basis. That’s coast to coast, as well as overseas. My best friend from Rice is a now a Columbia physics professor specializing in particle physics and he’s working at the Cern Lab in Switzerland – the largest particle accelerator in the world. He’d happily take my call to answer questions put to him. Seth would not like to hear what he has to say about me, in terms of how it would impact his accusations. (He is off the charts brilliant and his comparison of our relative abilities still stands as one of the best compliments I’ve ever received.)

    But as a matter of practice, when I am certain as to my case, I am always willing to go with the other side’s expert – so that there is no question or debate about the bias or credibility of the person who is validating my claim.

    Dr. Novello spends a considerable amount of time in the cause of verifying disputed claims as a skeptic and as a member of the Skeptics’ community. If he does not want to help on this one – well that’s his choice and we could look for another suitable person.

    It does not hurt to ask him, though, if Seth consents to my making a joint request for his assistance in resolving this particular dispute. Isn’t that a hallmark of skeptics – verifying disputed claims? Seth claims I am a fraud – very easy to determine.

    And BTW is there anyone in the formal Skeptics’ community with stronger scientific credentials than Dr. Novella? Like I have said before – I am really curious about the whole skeptics’ community anyway (and its apparent contradictions) and so it would be nice to be able to speak with one of the top dogs, if not the top dog.

  108. @TrueSkeptic:

    Oh Lord.

    Seth claims I am a fraud – very easy to determine.

    Yep. It sure is. All you have to do is establish that the claims you are making about your credentials are valid. The onus is on you, my friend.

    I’m rather (dare I say it) skeptical of your claims to authority. After all, I’m a high-ranking representative of the U.N. Security Council. Plus, I invented packing peanuts, so I know all about this stuff. Just ask anyone!

    You want to see is Steve Novella will have lunch with you so you can try to sell him on your 9/11 conspiracy nonsense? Go right ahead. Again, the onus is on you. It is not Seth’s (or anyone else’s) responsibility to help you prove your claims. It is all about evidence.

    I’m also starting to feel rather like this is a major troll feast here.

  109. eth tried to compensate for his previous false accusation, by making another one that people could not simply verify for themselves, as was the case with his first.

    ———–

    Again, Skeptical Male, this is a truly excellent example of argument ad hominem. You see, since he can’t actually refute what he said on the other thread, and what precise claims he made, TS is now arguing the irrelevant point of whether I am, in general, a trustworthy person. He is also apparently in denial of the fact that I’ve linked to the relevant post and comments.

    But of course, anyone can verify exactly who said what by reading the exchanges and the linked article.

    Me. External Link.
    TS.
    TS
    Me. External Link.
    TS

    You’ll note (if you bother to read this crap) that in his last post there, TS makes a bunch of claims about building construction, and rates of collapse, and what not. But he doesn’t provide any actual analysis or references, and he’s already demonstrated that he doesn’t understand how skyscrapers are made.

    So he has not credibility on this specific matter of engineering, because he has already demonstrated an ignorance of even the most basic principles. Furthermore, he refuses to admit that mistake, and it appears that some of his ideas depend on that mistake.

    And that, TS, is how you attack somebodies credibility. I hope you were paying attention.

  110. Greeny –

    The purpose would not be to trouble the good doctor with reviewing evidence on matters that he may have no interest in. He could simply verify whether anything I have said about myself is not true. It is not difficult. He would not have to do more than that. He would not have to review or decide the validity of any other disputes between me and Seth. Nor would he have to indulge any of my curiosities about the group. Doctors are busy people.

    And if we did discuss Skeptics in general, I’d be more than happy to do so in general terms – as this thread proceeded before you asked me for a specific example and before someone else introduced the 9/11 topic. He may have no particular interest in that topic, and I am a very polite conversationalist in terms what is of interest to the other person. I would think that the Skeptics movement in general terms would be of interest to him, but just as I did on this thread, I would let him choose what course he wanted to take the discussion.

    Just a little intellectual curiosity on my end, but we can leave that out of it altogether if he is willing to resolve this claim as to whether I am a fraud. Would he be an acceptable arbiter of that dispute from your perspective – or do you have someone better in mind?

    And Greeny, as for “9/11 conspiracy nonsense,” as you describe it – are you saying that the skepticism expressed by two (of many) imminent professors in posts 113 & 114 is nonsense?

    Or were you referring to the nit-picking nonsense between Seth and I — which I agree qualifies as such. It is immaterial minutiae that provides a good distraction for Seth — and a waste of my time to wade through it – but I will do it anyway because in a moment of stupidity I said that I would.

    I have a client waiting right now though.

  111. One final post: TS, such a meeting would serve no purpose. Your identity being verified does not validate your points on 9/11, which is the topic under discussion. Evidence would serve that purpose much better. So what would be the point other than to waste everyone’s time. It shouldn’t matter what Seth thinks of you. If you really think you are right based on the evidence that you have, then give that evidence and explain why Seth’s evidence isn’t correct.

  112. would think that the Skeptics movement in general terms would be of interest to him,
    —————
    It might be, but as we’ve already established, you aren’t a skeptic. The 911 thing is merely an example of an area in which you do not think like a skeptic. My entry to this effect can be found in the most recent skeptics circle.

  113. Ok – here goes.

    You go to the link that Kimbo provides at # 142 on this thread, which will take you to a past thread, where I cite to the posts in question that supply the context for Seth, once again, mischaracterizing what occurred and my posts.

    TS (#248) I posed the question:

    “Seth – my starting point is NIST’s theory that the supports at the crash site at the upper levels failed due to the damage of the impact and the fires. Accepting that theory as true, for the sake of argument, as what occurred at the upper crash site levels — the undamaged levels underneath the crash site fail and collapse straight down at close to fee fall speed. I ask [you] to account for that.”

    [Notice I am already using the technique of making the assumption that the author (in this example NIST) is correct in its premise – this is an important feature of a logical argument – starting from common assumptions or a shared premise. You have to keep this technique in mind – because if you pull my accepting someone else’s premise out of context, you can they claim (as Seth does) that I am responsible for the assumption, which is either a very lazy (which Seth admits) or deliberately dishonest method of debate.]

    Seth (#253) gives his first (wrong) response as even NIST rejected the “pancake” theory for the failure of the undamaged floors beneath the impact level:

    Okay, I’ll account for part of that. Thousands of tons of free falling matter fell on the lower floors, causing them to collapse in the order in which they were struck by the falling matter. “Close to free fall” is an imprecise term. How close were they to free fall, and why do you think that the pancaking of the upper floors does not explain the rate of collapse?

    TS (#383) I correct Seth and explain what it is that NIST did and did not attempt to establish:

    “1. NIST admits there being no historical precedent of fire being the primary cause of a such failure (which is their premise).

    2. In the experiments NIST conducted – it could not replicate the fire-induced weakening of the steel that it hypothesized would be necessary to support the theory. The inability to replicate one’s theory through experiment is generally considered to be problem. NIST concedes the plane impact alone was not enough — and that the hypothesized, fire-induced steel weakening is necessary.

    But even accepting this (rather weak) collapse initiation theory (which would go under the heading – we could not come up with anything better) – that theory does not account for the rapid, straight down, symmetrical failure of the building structure underneath.

    NIST decided that it was not part of its job to scientifically account for what happened after collapse initiation. And it does not do so – period.

    Within this vacuum created by NIST punting, independents proposed the “pancake” collapse theory for the structure underneath the plane impact levels. This sparked a heated debate, because such a theory flies in the face of basic principles of physics.

    So the anti-Pancake scientists appealed to NIST to settle the debate. NIST conceded that it could not support the pancake theory – for good reason – it’s sort of on the order of saying the world is flat. It’s also called the “pile-driver” theory — and it is scientifically indefensible. One could design experiments to demonstrate this.”

    [Notice that I am criticizing here what I previously accepted as an assumption – NIST’s collapse initiation theory, which was neither supported by historic precedent nor NIST’s own testing of its theory.]

    Seth (#400) then cites to a quote by NIST in response to a FAQ where NIST in answer to a question agrees that there is enough theoretical gravitational energy to collapse the rest of the Towers after the initiation of the collapse at the upper levels.

    Seth (#403) believes that with NIST’s hand-waving about gravitational potential energy in response to a FAQ has won the pancake theory debate and he celebrates:

    “Wait… that quote of mine can’t be right, can it? Because super physicist lawyer investigator guy said “NIST conceded that it could not support the pancake theory”, but in the FAQ they do support the theory…Is it possible that TS is lying? Or is he simply not familiar with the contents of the NIST report? Gosh, I’m just all-a-goggle waiting to find out!”

    TS (#409) I burst his bubble by quoting directly from NIST that it cannot support Seth’s “pancake theory:”

    “Quoting from NIST:
    NIST’s findings do not support the “pancake theory” of collapse, which is premised on a progressive failure of the floor systems in the WTC towers (the composite floor system that connected the core columns and the perimeter columns consisted of a grid of steel trusses integrated with a concrete slab; see diagram below). Instead, the NIST investigation showed conclusively that the failure of the inwardly bowed perimeter columns initiated collapse and that the occurrence of this inward bowing required the sagging floors to remain connected to the columns and pull the columns inwards. Thus, the floors did not fail progressively to cause a pancaking phenomenon.”

    http://wtc.nist.gov/pubs/factsheets/faqs_8_2006.htm

    TS (#411) I also give a cite to NIST’s admission that it did not model “the propagation of the collapse.”

    Seth (#422) admits his error on pancake theory and he asks me what wrong with NIST’s response to the FAQ about whether there was enough gravitational energy, which he quoted at (#400).

    “You are correct, though, on the pancake theory and the NIST document. They do have a different explanation, based on evidence. What’s wrong with the NIST explanation as it stands, especially in light of the fact that there was more than enough gravitational load to collapse the buildings?”

    TS (#425) so I answer his question. It is very simple matter of physics:

    “What is wrong is that they have admittedly not explained the “propagation” of the collapse. Saying there is enough “gravitational” energy does not come close to explaining what happened. Look at their computer simulation of the collapse of WTC7 — where they do come up with an explanation for the high rate of collapse.
    In order to come up with a theory to explain that collapse — they had to have a critical vertical support (accepting their explanation) fail at once from top to bottom.

    You cannot have that high rate of collapse where the lower vertical supports are in tact, as they were with the twin towers.”

    I continue:

    “If NIST would release (which it refuses to do) the plans and specs of the buildings (which you can get a sense for in the photos of its construction) you could build a model replicate of the Tower and test whether a collapse initiation that they theorize could lead to the collapse propagation that we see.
    NIST is hand-waving the collapse of the lower structure. If I went into court with a case that depended upon explaining the collapse of the lower structure as depicted in the videos and I said there is enough theoretical gravitational energy for this to happen — the case would be thrown out. That’s not an explanation of the actual event, and it’s not evidence or proof of the actual event. NIST admittedly just punted this and was forced to reject the “pancake” theory.”

    TS (#436) I quote from the NIST’s former division chief:

    who says “the validation of [NIST’s computer] modeling is in question.” He says “the official conclusion that NIST arrived at is questionable.” And further: “I wish that there would be a peer review of this. I think all the records that NIST has assembled should be archived. I would really like to see someone else take a look at what they’ve done; both structurally and from a fire point of view.”

    [Of course the former NIST chief is correct – preserve the evidence, open it up to others, validate your computer modeling, and the NIST report should be peer-reviewed. Anyone disagree with that?]

    So this was the context in which we get into the discussion of one floor supporting the floor above it and how buildings are constructed. This goes back to Seth (#400) quoting an informal answer by NIST to a FAQ. This is not part of the official analysis or the official report. And we have no idea who wrote this. But it comes from flawed NIST statements about middle floors supporting upper floors.

    Remember Seth correctly viewed this (#403) as supporting the pancake theory, because it discusses a floor-by-floor failure (although NIST already admitted the year before that it could not support the pancake theory):

    “Consider a typical floor immediately below the level of collapse initiation and conservatively assume that the floor is still supported on all columns … the total vertical load on a floor outside the core can be estimated by multiplying the floor area (31,000 ft2) by the gravitational load (80 lb/ft2), which yields 2,500,000 lb …By dividing the total vertical connection capacity (29,000,000 lb) of a floor by the total vertical load applied to the connections (2,500,000 lb), the number of floors that can be supported by an intact floor is calculated to be a total of 12 floors or 11 additional floors.”

    Whoever is writing this response to a FAQ is saying that “Consider a typical floor” below the “collapse initiation” and the writer is saying (with respect to the ability to support a gravitational load) that such“an intact floor”can support the weight of “11 additional floors.”

    The writer (#400) describes this analysis as follows:

    “This simplified and conservative analysis indicates that the floor connections could have carried only a maximum of about 11 additional floors if the load from these floors were applied statically.”

    So, whoever at NIST wrote this 2007 response to a FAQ is the one talking about how many extra floors you can add on to a floor of the WTC before the floor starts to collapse.

    Now Seth is correct that this analysis is fatally flawed because that is not how skyscrapers work and this is why the pancake theory is a joke. The building is significantly supported by the structural vertical columns that distribute the gravitational load all the way to the base of the building.

    Seth cites to this explanation in his link at #422.

    “In a typical skyscraper substructure, each vertical column sits on a spread footing. The column rests directly on a cast-iron plate, which sits on top of a grillage. The grillage is basically a stack of horizontal steel beams, lined side-by-side in two or more layers. The grillage rests on a thick concrete pad poured directly onto the hard clay under the ground. Once the steel is in place, the entire structure is covered with concrete.

    This structure expands out lower in the ground, the same way a pyramid expands out as you go down. This distributes the concentrated weight from the columns over a wide surface.

    Ultimately, the entire weight of the building rests directly on the hard clay material under the earth. In very heavy buildings, the base of the spread footings rest on massive concrete piers that extend all the way down to the earth’s bedrock layer.”

    The concept that each floor must independently support the weight of the floor above it was true before the advancements involved with skyscrapers that distributed the gravitational load to the base. Before that – every time you added another floor, you needed to make the lower floors thicker. This is explained in the same article:

    “The main obstacle in building upward is the downward pull of gravity. Imagine carrying a friend on your shoulders. If the person is fairly light, you can support them pretty well by yourself. But if you were to put another person on your friend’s shoulders (build your tower higher), the weight would probably be too much for you to carry alone. To make a tower that is “multiple-people high,” you need more people on the bottom to support the weight of everybody above. This is how “cheerleader pyramids” work, and it’s also how real pyramids and other stone buildings work. There has to be more material at the bottom to support the combined weight of all the material above. Every time you add a new vertical layer, the total force on every point below that layer increases. If you kept increasing the base of a pyramid, you could build it up indefinitely. This becomes infeasible very quickly, of course, since the bottom base takes up too much available land. In normal buildings made of bricks and mortar, you have to keep thickening the lower walls as you build new upper floors. After you reach a certain height, this is highly impractical. If there’s almost no room on the lower floors, what’s the point in making a tall building? Using this technology, people didn’t construct many buildings more than 10 stories — it just wasn’t feasible.”

    So Seth’s own citation to How Skyscrapers Work – explains the absurdity of the statement at (#400) in NIST’s “simplified analysis” that in a static load condition a typical floor in the WTC could only support 11 additional floors (or 6 floors if applied with momentum upon being accelerated by gravity), as though you would gravitationally overcome one floor at a time.

    Instead, the gravitational load, as explained in Seth’s own article, is distributed all the way to the base of the building.

    So in the NIST response to the FAQ (#400) a typical floor located at the 60th floor that is supporting (according to the analysis) 47 floors above it can support 11 additional floors. It can therefore support a total of 58 floors.

    But a “typical floor” located at the 40th floor is already supporting 67 floors above it, and so it is already overloaded and above by the 58 floor maximum for a “typical floor.” The conceptual framework of NIST’s informal reply to this FAQ is wrong.

    Conceptually, this describes the older method of engineering where the lower floors had to be progressively stronger in terms of being able to handle the extra gravitational load as you built upwards.

    To emphasize the flaw in this analysis, I stated at (#415):

    “And as I reflect on those equations – yes there is an inherent flaw in them. Think about it. Floor number 2 is supporting the 100+ floors above it.”

    So when I say that floor 2 is supporting 100+ floors above it — this comment is illustrative of what I call “an inherent flaw” (in the immediate preceding sentence) in the conceptualization of a gravitational load overcoming one floor at a time or describing how a typical building floor can handle another 11 floors from a gravitational load perspective.

    I was pointing out the flaw in this thinking before Seth cited to the Article providing an engineering reference supporting my criticism of the floor-by-floor gravitational analysis.

    There. Seth once again took a sentence out of context where I was clearly describing “an inherent flaw” in a “simplified analysis” given by NIST in an informal response to a FAQ. The inherent flaw being where one discusses how gravity acts upon skyscraper engineering in terms of how many “additional floors” you can stack atop a “typical floor.”

    So now I believe I have earned the right to quote Seth again:

    “I don’t actually read your posts very carefully. I’m more lazy than I am dishonest.”

    Now – you asked for this, but I really doubt any of you cared or that any of you will read it, except of course for Seth being some combination of lazy and dishonest in misrepresenting it.

  114. And Seth does it again in #151 – Greeny.

    When are you going to accept that this is not – “anyone can make a mistake:”

    would think that the Skeptics movement in general terms would be of interest to him,
    —————
    It might be, but as we’ve already established, you aren’t a skeptic.

    Of course I have never claimed to be a part of the “Skeptics movement.” I made the statement in the context of my intellectual curiosity about the movement and that perhaps Dr. Novella would be happy to discuss it.

    But with Seth – up is down and down is up.

    Seth reminds me of a scene from My Cousin Vinny, where the police officer asks the innocent murder suspect:

    “Is that when you shot the clerk?”

    he responds: “I shot the clerk?”

    And later the cop testifies – “he stated that he shot the clerk.”

    That’s Seth.

  115. “So, make good on your promise from comment 131, TS. Go ahead, I dare you.”

    You know – Greeny, when I was in the middle of composing this, starting at about 10:30 pm after a long day (and not finishing until after 2:00 am), I was thinking to myself: “I must be a complete f*cking moron for having promised to do this.”

    I knew that I was right about what had been said and why, but why should I bother demonstrating this to anyone else? I mean … who the f*ck cares?

    And yes I know the answer to that is most likely “nobody – you assh*le!,” which is what I was thinking as I wrote it.

    But having done the work, I am glad I did. I have this thing about keeping promises (even if upon reflection they seem stupid), and I have this thing about the truth. And these two things made it worth it.

  116. @TrueSkeptic: And Seth — I noticed that you have completely chickened out on your assertion that I am fraud.

    —————

    You are not a lawyer and you do not have a degree in physics. If you attempt to practice law, I believe that you are a total fraud.

  117. @TrueSkeptic: Now – you asked for this, but I really doubt any of you cared or that any of you will read it, except of course for Seth being some combination of lazy and dishonest in misrepresenting it.

    ————-

    Dude. I’m sorry. I could write a long thing about this, but this is all I have the patience for:

    The NIST FAQ is describing truss connections, that is, the load of the connections between columns. You can tell because they say:

    Consider further the truss seat connections between the primary floor trusses and the exterior wall columns or core columns.

    Trusses go across. They hold up the stuff on the floor (like computers and things), and provide stability to keep the columns from buckling.

    So, no. The NIST FAQ does not rest on the idea that floor 2 is holding up the 100+ floors above it. And your “analysis” above doesn’t explain your earlier <a href=”@absurd contention that the How things work article “verified my point, which is that a significant fraction of the bottom floors of the WTC were built using much stronger structural steel supports capable of supporting much heavier static loads than the upper floors, still applying the pyramid principal within this structure.”

    Why, if you understood that this was not the case all along, and are not merely spinning now, did you mischaracterize the How Things Works article, when you <a href=”@now say “Instead, the gravitational load, as explained in Seth’s own article, is distributed all the way to the base of the building.”?

    I think that it’s pretty clear that your latest entry is an attempt to mislead. You are contradicting yourself and spinning, in an attempt to avoid admitting making a trivial mistake. In doing so, you made another trivial mistake about the difference between a column and a truss.

    So at this point, we know that you will go to enormous effort to avoid admitting when you are wrong and that you don’t understand even the most trivial things about skyscraper construction.

    Epic Fail, Dude. Epic.

  118. Seth – I was wondering whether anyone would pick up on this. I thought about writing an aside on this – but doing so was completely unnecessary (in such a long review of the real debate) unless anyone cared about this point. You are referring to what I said at post #123. At that point, I stated:

    “That was a long time ago, but I did go back and read the discussion, although there is a lot of links and references to articles that you’d also have to go back and read to understand the discussion in context. I just looked at one Article – the one you cited in response to my comment, which does not in any sense undercut or rebut my comment.”

    At post #123, all I did was go back and read your cite to the Article on How Things Work, which you were repeating again in this thread. At that point in time, before a more thorough review, it is very clear that in my mind I was conflating the NIST FAQ at #400, which did not get into an elapsed time analysis, with a completely different Article that did so, which I addressed at post #470:

    http://www.civil.northwestern.edu/people/bazant/PDFs/Papers/466.pdf”

    I would say that this is a harmless and understandable mis-remembering of the discussion just under 4 months ago, because the above Article was cited as a reference in another NIST FAQ, which someone else in the thread asked for me to address – separate from the NIST FAQ that you asked me to address. And I was conflating the two in my mind.

    The How things work Article does support this comment of mine in this thread at #123:

    “verified my point, which is that a significant fraction of the bottom floors of the WTC were built using much stronger structural steel supports capable of supporting much heavier static loads than the upper floors, still applying the pyramid principle within this structure.”

    This statement is a true statement and it would undercut any analysis that attempted to use a “typical floor” of the WTC in attempting to calculate the time lapse to undermine the floor with a gravitational load. That was not being done in your NIST FAQ, but it was being done in the other Article, which was not part of our discussion on the original thread and had not yet occurred when at post #415 I made the 2nd floor + 100 floors observation to undercut your NIST FAQ. So that comment by me at #123 was unnecessary in my review of our debate on the original thread, but still nonetheless a true statement and observation about the How Things Work Article and about the WTC construction. (If you think that this is wrong – say so and I will show you that you are wrong.)

    So at #123, I had not yet read the prior thread carefully for the full, chronological, and detailed context, which I did later when I issued my dare to you.

    At #127, I explained the 2nd Floor plus 100 floors in context:

    “Seth you have to understand the context in which statements are being made. This requires careful reading – something that you already admit that you do not do. I was the one criticizing an analysis that tried to explain the free-fall of the Towers by looking at what would be required to overload a single floor.”

    And then at #128, I read back further in that thread for the origins of the flawed analysis and found out that it was you, whereupon I dared you to push your criticism, because I could turn it right back on you – including my catching you in a celebration of believing you had discredited me and suggested I was lying and had to then eat crow as lengthy discussion at #152 demonstrated:

    (#128): “And now that I go back and look at it more closely – Seth, I was responding to a quote from you. You were the one who introduced the analysis of looking at how many floors a single floor can hold up. It was your quote below to which I was responding. You introduced the whole concept that you are now ridiculing. Amazing.”

    But my statements at #123 are still true – they were just unnecessary to a review of my debate with you. And no – I did not fail to appreciate the difference between a column and a truss — that is an error by the NIST FAQ analysis that you attempted to rely upon (as I demonstrated) in discussing a failure caused by a gravitational load, given that the vertical columns are the principal guardians of the gravitational load. I simply did not get into a detailed analysis of this error – because I provided a simple, conceptual analysis of why it was flawed in the 2nd floor + 100 floor statement.

  119. “You are not a lawyer and you do not have a degree in physics. If you attempt to practice law, I believe that you are a total fraud.”

    I do have a degree in physics from Rice University and I am an accomplished trial attorney with just under 25 years of experience, I am published, I have spoken at multiple seminars at the request of securities regulators, and I have been interviewed multiple times on television regarding securities matters.

    And how much to you want to wager that any of this is not true?

  120. And let me make two observations about the errors contained in the NIST responses to FAQs (which seth correctly admitted were inconsistent with the NIST official report and analysis).

    We don’t know who wrote those NIST responses to FAQs, but we do know that a former NIST division chief was very critical of the whole operation on WTC investigation – including that it was over-lawyered.

    And to put this into context of current events, there is an effort being made to get Obama to appoint A SCIENTIST to head up NIST. Imagine that – actually having a scientist to run this organization. Seems like a better idea than a political appointee non-scientist.

  121. @TrueSkeptic: because I provided a simple, conceptual analysis of why it was flawed in the 2nd floor + 100 floor statement.

    ——–

    You still don’t seem to understand the difference between a truss and a column, and thus don’t actually understand the NIST FAQ from even a layman’s perspective.

    So even if we accept your latest spin, that, despite all of your previous statements, you actually understood skyscraper construction all along, you still don’t understand skyscraper construction. And by “understand” I don’t mean that you can’t do equations and calculate loads, I mean you literally don’t seem to understand even the most basic vocabulary words and concepts.

    And even if we accept your new excuses, you’re lengthy post at 152 totally backs me up. The NIST FAQ does not suggest that skyscraper floors have to hold up floors above them, merely that they are strong enough to do so, and the HTW article doesn’t support your assertion that skyscrapers are built like pyramids.

    So in fact, the two things that you said you could demonstrate, you did not. All you’ve managed to do is prove that you are willing to contradict yourself (as I pointed out), won’t admit a mistake, and are even more ignorant than I already thought you were.

    As I’ve said many times, if you are a lawyer, you commit malpractice every day.

  122. And how much do you want to wager that any of this is not true?

    “A million billion dollars.”

    No Seth – I do not mean a pretend wager in your pretend world.

    I mean what amount will you put in the hands of a stakeholder who will turn the money over to the winner?

  123. “And even if we accept your new excuses, you’re lengthy post at 152 totally backs me up. The NIST FAQ does not suggest that skyscraper floors have to hold up floors above them, merely that they are strong enough to do so”

    Wrongo sport. In the NIST FAQ handing-waving comment about gravitational potential energy that is completely outside the scope of the NIST report and the NIST scientific analysis (and we do not even know whether it was written by a NIST scientist), the analysis starts with a calculation of how many additional floors a typical WTC floor could withstand in terms of extra gravitational load and then argues that it follows that the same floor could withstand even less where the floors failing above it are accelerated downward, once the collapse initiation has started.

    One of us has an education in physics – and I am going to prove which one it is – whether you are too chicken to make a wager on it or not.

  124. @TrueSkeptic: Wrongo sport…

    ————

    No, righto. Saying “these truss connections can bear the weight of 11 additional floors” is not the same as saying “these truss connections bear the weight of the 11 floors above them all the time”.

    What’s funny is that you demonstrably don’t understand the basics of construction enough to even comprehend the FAQ on the NIST site, yet you seem to think that having a degree of some kind would make up for that.

    It doesn’t matter if you have a degree, sport. You have demonstrated that you are ignorant, dishonest, and obstinate. Your credentials don’t mean shit.

    Not that you have any, of course. But even if you did, they wouldn’t pertain to the discussion.

  125. @TrueSkeptic: I mean what amount will you put in the hands of a stakeholder who will turn the money over to the winner?

    ——————

    None. I don’t make stupid bets with morons over the internet.

    But I do think you’re lying. Prove me wrong, don’t prove me wrong, it doesn’t matter to me. You’d be just as wrong with a degree as you are without.

  126. which seth correctly admitted were inconsistent with the NIST official report and analysis

    ————

    No, I didn’t. I admitted that I was wrong about them supporting the pancake theory. Me being wrong != NIST FAQ being inconsistent.

    TS… every time I bother to read a paragraph that you write, I find a lie, misrepresentation, or mistake. It’s amazing.

  127. “Prove me wrong, don’t prove me wrong, it doesn’t matter to me.”

    Yes – Seth. This is clearly true (as others can attest to as well). I think that says it all. And on that admission by you, I really should not waste any further time with you.

    That is even better than your other admission:

    “I don’t actually read your posts very carefully. I’m more lazy than I am dishonest.”

    And it really does not matter whether your “mistakes” are due to laziness or dishonesty, it makes debating you a waste of time – either way.

  128. Oh – but I cannot let this one go:

    “TS… every time I bother to read a paragraph that you write, I find a lie, misrepresentation, or mistake. It’s amazing.”

    Let’s look at a practical demonstration of this for those without the patience to read #152 in full:

    TS:“NIST conceded that it could not support the pancake theory”

    Seth:“Wait… that quote of mine can’t be right, can it? Because super physicist lawyer investigator guy said “NIST conceded that it could not support the pancake theory” …. Is it possible that TS is lying? Or is he simply not familiar with the contents of the NIST report? Gosh, I’m just all-a-goggle waiting to find out!”

    TS:I then quote directly from NIST in NIST’s own words: “NIST’s findings do not support the ‘pancake theory’ of collapse, which is premised on a progressive failure of the floor systems in the WTC towers”

    Seth:“You are correct, though, on the pancake theory and the NIST document.”

    So here is a clear example of Seth celebrating his showing me up as being a liar or not knowing what I am talking about, but then is forced to concede he is wrong. But he’ll only make such a concession if you can demonstrate he is wrong beyond any question, such that he would look worse by not conceding.

    Aside from that, he’ll assert ad infinitum that he is right and I am either lying, stupid or ignorant.

    He said it best: “Prove me wrong, don’t prove me wrong, it doesn’t matter to me.”

    Precisely. : )

  129. I wonder if the irony of someone claiming to be a lawyer with such expertise in securities law making a wager like this is lost on you, TS.

    It’s really simple – Greeny. You just tightly define what the bet is in terms of what is to be proven and then you tightly define what is acceptable proof. Certified academic transcripts? Certified bar license? Letter from legal treatise publisher confirming that I am contributing author? Video of me on Fox News affiliate being interviewed on the Martha Stewart insider trading case? All my reported cases? References from any number of preeminent attorneys and scientists?

    If your point is the risk of getting ripped off – I’d let a respected member of the Skeptics’ community hold the money and determine whether I have delivered upon the defined, required proof.

    As Seth is a professed member of the group, while I am just an observer, it seems that I would be the one taking the risk in terms of the integrity of the process. But I’d accept that risk. After all, I am clearly the one who knows the truth of it.

    Oh and it just dawned on me — isn’t James Randi renowned for offering such wagers? : )

    http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/1m-challenge/challenge-faq.html

    So you would think this would be a natural for skeptics. Huh – that’s interesting how so many have treated this as such strange concept.

  130. @TrueSkeptic:
    Oh Christ, TS. When he said “prove me wrong, don’t prove me wrong…” he was talking about your alleged qualifications. Talk about taking a quote out of context.

    I’ll stand with him on that: I find no reason to believe that your assertions that you’re some hot shot lawyer who gets interviewed for da teevee. And until proof is presented on this, I’ll continue to reject it.

    BUT: even if you produce proof of THAT claim, it STILL doesn’t give any credence whatsoever to your other claims. An argument from personal authority will go exactly nowhere here. As a “True Skeptic,” of course, you should know this.

    THAT is the point Seth was making in your out-of-context quote. I’ve no doubt that Seth would gladly accept proof of your credentials and reject his assertion that you’re making it up, were evidence provided. But it would say nothing about the validity of your 9/11 hypotheses.

  131. @TrueSkeptic: But he’ll only make such a concession if you can demonstrate he is wrong beyond any question,

    ———————

    A trait that separates me from you, since you won’t admit that you are wrong no matter what, even when it is totally obvious to everyone that you are.

    None of which addresses the inconsistency of your claims, your ignorance of the definition of the word “truss”, or the fact that you failed, in four hours, to demonstrate either that the NIST document claimed that any floor was holding up the floors above it or that the How things work article showed that skyscrapers are built like pyramids. Since those are the two thing you claimed you were going to show, I guess we know you can’t back your shit up.

    Why, by the way, should I care whether you prove me wrong on any point? Am I supposed to be some sort of zealot who fears being mistaken? If I’m wrong about anything, you only have to demonstrate it.

  132. “Oh Christ, TS. When he said “prove me wrong, don’t prove me wrong…” he was talking about your alleged qualifications. Talk about taking a quote out of context.”

    You think that’s out of context Greeny? Maybe you have not followed Seth’s posting very much.

    I could put together a separate post containing a list of all the times that Seth has argued a point as though it did matter. Then he was proven wrong (which again has to happen definitively with any doubt – but that still happens often enough) after a long heated struggle. And then he turns right around and says that it does not matter that he was proven wrong, because he is still right in some different or broader context.

    My original legal mentor had a description for that: “It’s like trying to nail a custard pie to a wall.”

    You say that you are skeptical that I am who I say that I am. Fine. You don’t know one way or the other and you say it does not matter in terms of who is correct, which is fine as a strict point of logic. But in the real world – Greeny – credentials and credibility do matter. For example, no one would be mentioning NIST, but for its credentials and credibility.

    Here is just one (of very many) occasions (#156) where Seth has made definitive statements on the subject:

    “You are not a lawyer and you do not have a degree in physics.”

    Seth is making an assertion of fact to support an argument that he is making. He is saying the quality of my logic, argument, and knowledge is such that my background must be false. And he is saying that I am lying. So there is a component of substantive deductive reasoning and a component of credibility imbedded in this claim of fact that he makes for the purpose of supporting his argument. And he has coupled this claim of fact to his argument elsewhere in just that manner.

    No you are saying this fact is immaterial to the argument as being a claim of “personal authority,” but that is not the position Seth is taking – that is until and unless he is proven wrong. For the time being, he is claiming that my credentials are materially inconsistent with the positions I take and the arguments that I make.

    Right now he argues the point as though it is material. But if you prove him wrong, he will claim that it is immaterial. This is not an isolated incident – Greeny – such is the case with all his arguments. You cut off one branch of a Seth argument and he sprouts another and claims that the missing branch never mattered in the first place.

    Ergo – an argument with Seth is really pointless in the same manner as skeptics assert about some groups. No matter how many times you defeat his claims – he will assert that it does not matter and he will find another point to focus on.

    Now he claims I am ignorant about “trusses” – now there is a great thing to argue with him about.

    But we could set aside my credentials and focus on this one of his at #175:

    “None of which addresses the inconsistency of your claims … or that the How things work article showed that skyscrapers are built like pyramids. Since those are the two thing you claimed you were going to show, I guess we know you can’t back your shit up.”

    I could show both that Seth is AGAIN mischaracterizing my statement about pyramids AND I could show the principles underlying pyramids were accomplished in a different manner (though retained in principle) in the design of skyscrapers and more specifically employed in the WTC – and I could reference both Seth’s How Things Work article and a link to WTC construction to do this.

    But would proving Seth wrong on yet again another point matter to him – NO!

    BTW – some of that is contained in #152 already. The big long answer that you were waiting for and Seth was demanding.

    Did that make a difference – NO!

    He just found more things to demand and none of it will make any difference to him. So:

    “Prove me wrong, don’t prove me wrong, it doesn’t matter to me.”

    is not an isolated statement taken out of context as you suggest – Greeny. It is in fact the quintessential …. SETH.

  133. @TrueSkeptic: Right now he argues the point as though it is material. But if you prove him wrong, he will claim that it is immaterial.

    ————–

    Not true at all. I said “Prove me wrong, don’t prove me wrong, it doesn’t matter to me. You’d be just as wrong with a degree as you are without.

    So not only are you talking out of your ass, but the sentence that reveals that you are talking out of your ass immediately follows the sentence you’ve quoted a bunch of times in bold emphasis. And you know it, because you say that “He is saying the quality of my logic, argument, and knowledge is such that my background must be false,” so obviously, you know that your background has nothing to do with my critique of you and has never been material. You’re lying, and you know it.

    What I don’t get is why you think anyone should care whether I hang on your every word, or whether I’m emotionally invested in my argument with you.

    Anyway, away from your pathetic ad hominem, and back to the argument at hand:

    I could show both that Seth is AGAIN mischaracterizing my statement about pyramids

    No. You can’t. The How Things Work article does not, at any point, in any line, anywhere, in any way, imply in the slightest that the lower floors of WTC 1&2 were build to bear more weight than the upper. As you claimed more than once that they were. But if you can, go for it.

    Let me lay this out for you.

    First you said something truly ignorant about skyscraper construction. Then you tried to back it up, by saying that your statement was 100% correct in context and “self evident on its face”, which could be the most meaningless five word string in the history of skepchick. Days later, you finally came up with a context, and spent four hours saying that you were pointing out a flaw in somebody elses article. But that flaw isn’t actually there. So in trying to cover up your prior ignorant comment, you’ve revealed that you still don’t understand the NIST FAQ or skyscrapers. So now, you’re reduced to claiming I’m moving the goalposts on you. But I’m not. My original question was “What is wrong with the equation in the NIST FAQ”, and what you’ve come up with are three mistakes:
    1. You don’t understand that lower floors are not build stronger than upper (as you have insisted repeatedly)
    2. You don’t understand the discussion of truss connections.
    3. You seem to think that because I was mistaken about the FAQ, the FAQ author made the same mistake.

    These are trivial factual and logical errors that you have failed entirely to address.

  134. This is the part where someone comments that no one has commented in a while and this is finally dead (again) and then TS comes back to say the reason he hasn’t responded is that he was busy with his very important clients. Which is all well and good, except that it once again fails to address any of the criticism to his argument that Seth had put forth. Perhaps he would once again make mention of the various insults Seth has launched towards him rather than discussing the topic at hand and he will make some sort of comment as to my lack of intelligence or eloquence. His response might even include some example of something someone said on this thread (or another) as if someone posting on an internet message board is supposed to represent the skeptical movement in general. Which ignores the following facts: that not everyone that posts here is a skeptic, that not every skeptic is a good skeptic, that not every good skeptic is a perfect skeptic all the time, and that this is particularly not so in the casual circumstance of an internet forum. Now that I’ve said all this, assuming he bothers to check the thread, he gets to say “I wouldn’t have said any of that” and I might believe him if any of that that hadn’t already happened.

  135. “This is the part where someone comments that no one has commented in a while and this is finally dead (again)”

    It was dead – Kimbo – until you chimed in again after you said that you were done with this thread. See #144 & 150.

    “and then TS comes back to say the reason he hasn’t responded is that he was busy with his very important clients.”

    Well this is half right and half wrong. It is true that I have a life outside of Skepchick. It false that this is the reason that I chose not to respond to Seth’s never ending babble that is based upon his demonstrable mischaracterizations of my positions (which both he #89 and Greeny #138 conceded) or his failure to read or comprehend past comments (which he also conceded #89). I explained at #171 why it was a waste of time to continue.

    “Which is all well and good, except that it once again fails to address any of the criticism to his argument that Seth had put forth.”

    I fail to address Seth’s criticisms “once again” – you say? Once again? Are you serious? Kimbo, I practically wrote a dissertation at #152 in response to Seth’s criticisms.

    Now Kimbo – if you were both objective and read this stuff with understanding, you would know that I shot down Seth in #152 and it was he who failed to respond, as he admitted in #157:

    “Dude. I’m sorry. I could write a long thing about this, but this is all I have the patience for…”

    Where he then asks a question about my understanding of trusses and makes a claim about NIST’s FAQ that is simply wrong. And this is really already addressed in my #152 response, including within all the citations I include.

    So Kimbo – your description is completely backwards here in terms of who is responding to whom. Now I know Seth can keep up the bobbing and weaving forever, but if you are going to make a claim that I failed to respond to something – that there is something that I have not satisfactorily addressed, then you should be able to define what it is. Spell it out in your own words, and I will answer your query with precision.

    If you cannot explain to me where I have failed – including in what manner the point was not adequately addressed in post #152, then I would suggest to you that you are not being forthright and objective in your observation and statement that is was me who “once again” is not responding. I did respond in #152 and a shorter version in #172. He’s crushed.

    You say that he is not — then explain that. He put forward new permutations of the same thing, but you tell me what they are. You define them for me, and I’ll take his new permutation and I will crush it for you. We’ve already established that this will never satisfy Seth, but I am curious if it will satisfy you.

  136. @TrueSkeptic:

    Dude, we’re just running in circles here, which is the point Kimbo made. No one felt you “failed to respond” to anything.

    I tried really really hard to not respond again, but I’m an intellectual masochist so here I am anyway. Seth is not “crushed.” Look at the evidence, TS. Your argument is bankrupt, your “I’m a famous lawyer” bravado is (as far as anyone can tell) empty, and your insistence on taking statements out of context is horribly irritating.

    This thread was kind of fun for a while, but now it’s just a chore. The evidence is in. You can restate your same tired arguments again and again if you like, but the evidence will continue to show them to be empty. I’m afraid your pet conspiracy theory is dead.

  137. “[TS] ignores the following facts: that not everyone that posts here is a skeptic, that not every skeptic is a good skeptic, that not every good skeptic is a perfect skeptic all the time, and that this is particularly not so in the casual circumstance of an internet forum. Now that I’ve said all this, assuming he bothers to check the thread, he gets to say “I wouldn’t have said any of that” and I might believe him if any of that that hadn’t already happened.

    Kimbo – I would not try to guess what it is I would say.

    I’ll tell you what I have to say. It does not matter whether everyone here is a skeptic, or a good skeptic, or a true skeptic, or a perfect skeptic.

    From my observation, the label “skeptic” is erroneous within context of the “skeptics’ movement.”

    The skeptics’ movements adopts formal positions that are demonstrably inconsistent with being a “skeptic.” So the personal failings of any given skeptic are irrelevant to the failings of the movement.

    And let me show you how your analysis is inconsistent. Skeptics prolifically criticize Christians for things that are clearly anti-Christian. Moreover, they do so as a basis for criticizing Christianity.

    Christianity can be defined by the teachings of Christ. So when professed Christians act or speak in a manner that is anti-Christian, criticism is properly addressed to the individual or the individual act or statement. That’s not to say that you cannot criticize the teachings of Christ – I just see very little of that in comparison to criticisms of anti-Christian conduct, beliefs or statements by professed Christians.

    In comparison, the failings of the “skeptics’ movement” is not a function of of the mistakes of its members, but rather it is an inherent flaw in the tenets of the movement, in light of their professed approval of critical thinking, the scientific method, and skepticism in the face of inadequately proven claims. With these criteria in mind, a number of the movements’ tenets are intractably inconsistent with their professed beliefs.

    On the other hand, there may well be a number of authentic skeptics on various skeptic sites, including this one. I have read many things from many posters that I can not find any fault with in terms of “of critical thinking, the scientific method, and skepticism in the face of inadequately proven claims.” All of which I personally approve.

  138. Hi Greeny –

    You misread Kimbo’s post.

    But let me share in the sentiment you expressed about letting this thread go, because I was tempted to respond earlier to this comment of yours:

    ” I’ve no doubt that Seth would gladly accept proof of your credentials and reject his assertion that you’re making it up, were evidence provided. But it would say nothing about the validity of your 9/11 hypotheses.”

    and now you have added:

    “I’m afraid your pet conspiracy theory is dead.”

    Read through anything that I have written and pray tell me what my “9/11 hypothesis” is?

    Or read through anything that I have written and pray tell me what my “pet conspiracy theory” is?

    And please quote what I have written and not pull a Seth and put words in my mouth.

    And my 7 year old is pulling me away from computer or I could help you with a few things.

  139. “So the personal failings of any given skeptic are irrelevant to the failings of the movement.”

    Then stop quoting people as examples to represent how the “skeptic’s movement” isn’t living up your standards.

  140. @TrueSkeptic: I’ll admit that your posts are long-winded and unclear so I may simply be misunderstanding. Can you please clarify:

    1. What is your point about the skeptic’s ‘movement’?

    2. What is your actual take on 9/11?

    PLEASE in 2 sentences or less per question. Since you’re in the mood to summarize. Because I am simply seeing bickering and nit picking on individual posts and I don’t see the point you are trying to make. At all.

  141. “Writing the longest post doesn’t mean you’ve won the argument …”

    That’s true Kimbo, but your ignoring my “longest post” in the following statement reveals a biased and uncritical attitude on your part (unless you have another explanation for it):

    “Which is all well and good, except that it [meaning my finally stopping] once again fails to address any of the criticism to his argument that Seth had put forth.”

    You say that I “once again” failed to respond to Seth when I provided a thorough response at #152. At the same time you ignore that Seth admittedly failed to address my points in #152.

    You can declare anyone whom you choose to be the “winner” of the argument, if you like, but to say that I repeatedly do not respond to Seth is … what it is.

    And let me also observe that presenting challenges ad infinitum (Seth’s particular talent) does not mean he’s won the argument either, just because the other person ultimately stops in recognition that he will go off in different directions forever.

  142. [must… not… feed… possible… troll… AHHH! The pull is too strong!!!]

    @TrueSkeptic: I’ll first off mirror Masala’s sentiment. Please, if you do nothing else, help us understand where you’re coming from.

    I’ll gladly concede that you haven’t espoused an actual conspiracy theory. What you have done is espoused contrarian positions consistent with what other 9/11 conspiracy theorists have espoused. It is hard for me, just a lowly mortal, to imagine a scenario where you might hold these opinions and not be a conspiracy theorist, but I’m willing to be shown otherwise.

    Also:

    You misread Kimbo’s post.

    Um. Yeah. I’m pretty sure I didn’t.

    The skeptics’ movements adopts formal positions that are demonstrably inconsistent with being a “skeptic.”

    Skeptics prolifically criticize Christians for things that are clearly anti-Christian. Moreover, they do so as a basis for criticizing Christianity.

    Christianity can be defined by the teachings of Christ. So when professed Christians act or speak in a manner that is anti-Christian

    Did anyone else find this comment as hilarious as I did?

    First, you make a grand, sweeping statement about the “formal positions” adopted by the “skeptics’ movement,” then as an example, you cite the fact that some skeptics make grand, sweeping statements about another group. This thread is officially fun again. Yay!

  143. @TrueSkeptic: Kimbo, I practically wrote a dissertation at #152 in response to Seth’s criticisms.

    ——-

    In which you failed to respond. Writing copious quantities of bullshit isn’t “responding” no matter how many characters you use.

    I don’t admit to not responding to 152. I can destroy 152 in one sentence. Here it is: the load a truss connection can potentially hold is not the same as the load a truss connection is designed to hold.

    Your entire “dissertation” was an attempt to cover up a mistake. You based the cover up on another simple mistake. You don’t understand what a truss is and what it does in a building, so you didn’t understand what the FAQ author was saying. That isn’t a response, that’s just bringing the stupid.

    All of which points out, again, your inability to admit or recognize when you are wrong. Which makes you, TS, the negative definition of a skeptic. When I say you aren’t a skeptic, I don’t mean that you aren’t in some club, I mean that you simply don’t think critically and have no interest in knowing what’s true.

  144. Masala –

    1. My point about the skeptics’ movement is that I see a contradiction between its tenets in theory and some of its tenets in practice. I would analogize the contradictions in play to “Christians” invoking Christ to justify war.

    2. As to 9/11, having looked into this at the prodding of an acquaintance of mine (circa 2007), it appears clear that a proper governmental investigation of the crime (in proportion to the crime itself, as well as what has been justified on the basis of this crime) has not been done. In the absence of a proper investigation and in the absence of a cohesive explanation of the crime consistent with known facts, one should be skeptical of any theory that purports to explain it (and I do mean any theory).

    I think I answered both questions within your 2 sentence limit. In my line of work, I often must operate within such constraints imposed by the rules. ; )

    I neglected to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas! – either theistically or atheistically according to each individual’s preference. : )

  145. @TrueSkeptic: And let me also observe that presenting challenges ad infinitum (Seth’s particular talent) does not mean he’s won the argument either, just because the other person ultimately stops in recognition that he will go off in different directions forever.

    —————–

    Bullshit. I presented exactly one challenge:

    Please explain what is wrong with a specific equation in the NIST FAQ.

    I presented it a long time ago. You have so far failed to meet that challenge, and yet you insist that you have superior knowledge about failures in the NIST report, and about that equation in particular.

    If I point out that you are bullshitting and failing to respond to a point several times, that is not issuing new challenges, or going off in different directions. If you change your story to cover up your previous mistakes, and I respond to your new mistakes, that is not going off in different directions, or issuing new challenges.

    You have failed to meet my original challenge. The reason you have failed to do so is because you are not knowledgeable in the area of structural engineering.

  146. @TrueSkeptic: 1. My point about the skeptics’ movement is that I see a contradiction between its tenets in theory and some of its tenets in practice.

    ——————–

    Okay. As far as I know, the only tenets of the skeptics movement are that you should yield to superior data and restrict positive claims to those that can be reasonably inferred from the current data. Name a case where some group of skeptics are failing to do either.

  147. @TrueSkeptic: In the absence of a proper investigation and in the absence of a cohesive explanation of the crime consistent with known facts, one should be skeptical of any theory that purports to explain it (and I do mean any theory).

    ——————–

    But we have a cohesive explanation. Planes were observed to crash into the buildings. Buildings were observed to collapse. The observed cause (airliners) is sufficient to explain the observed effect (collapse of buildings). A skeptic will therefore accept, provisionally, that this is the most likely chain of events.

    You seem to think that a skeptic should think something else might have happened. Skeptically, this requires some reason to believe that some other causal agent is involved, or that the observed agent is not sufficient.

    You have not presented any reason to believe that some other agent is involved, or that the observed agent is not sufficient. I have spent a great deal of time trying to get you to explain why the observed agent is not sufficient, and I have discovered that you are not competent to perform that analysis, nor are you interested in learning even the basic ideas that you assist you in doing so.

    A skeptic would therefore conclude that you are full of shit, and that the “official” explanation remains the most likely at this time. Wouldn’t you agree?

  148. Seth –

    Your building up a theory in your head of what I understand a truss to be and then shooting down this imagined theory is funny. Really funny.

    I’ll show you where the NIST FAQ answer regarding potential and kinetic energy derives from – it’s not from NIST’s own scientists or its report or analysis. It comes from a line of papers written by some guys from Northwestern (who amazingly wrote the first version within a few days of 9/11 — they got caught using false data BTW). Here is the paper in question that NIST cites in its FAQs for analysis that NIST failed to provide itself:

    http://www.civil.northwestern.edu/people/bazant/PDFs/Papers/466.pdf

    Let me quote to you from this paper:

    “It is shown that progressive collapse will be triggered if the total (internal) energy loss during the crushing of one story (equal to the energy dissipated by the complete crushing and compaction of one story, minus the loss of gravity potential during the crushing of that
    story) exceeds the kinetic energy impacted to that story.”

    As you yourself (correctly) noted in the original thread – this is a pancake theory of collapse.

    In its 2006 FAQ, NIST admitted that its scientists rejected the pancake theory of collapse propagation. But in the 2007 FAQ supplement, NIST agreed in principle with the theory to the energy arguments presented in the Northwestern paper (which is a pancake theory).

    Now there are a number of insurmountable problems with a pancake theory – not the least of which is the rate of collapse. To get the observed rate of collapse – you need an explanation for a top to bottom failure of critical vertical column supports – as NIST did with WTC 7.

    Here is another problem with the cited paper (which I noted myself – given my education in physics). The paper speaks of two phases: a “crush down” phase followed by a “crush up” phase: “The collapse, in which two phases—crush-down followed by crush-up—must be distinguished….”

    The authors provide a diagram illustration of the “crush-down” and “crush-up” phases, which is diagram one in their paper. So here is your assignment – Seth: looking at diagram one, conceptualizing the crush-down and crush-up theory, keeping in mind how the WTC towers were constructed and applying Einstein’s theory of relativity — what’s wrong with this picture?

    This quiz is open-book and open-note. That was always a bad sign I thought, because it meant you could not look up the answer anywhere (maybe someone has addressed this – I have not looked that hard – but I doubt it).

    Good luck. ; )

  149. @TrueSkeptic: Disagreeing with you personally is not the same as having a biased and uncritical “attitude”. No matter how much it makes you uncomfortable that someone with no diagnosable intellectual deficit thinks you’re so-called arguments are dumb, that is the case, and the number of times you euphemistically call me stupid will not change the fact that you made a mistake when you were arguing with Seth and rather than just admit it and move on you spend hundreds of words trying to cover it up.

    PS. It’s not up to me to declare a “winner”, it’s up to the facts.

  150. @TrueSkeptic: If you mean that some skeptics can act in a non-skeptical way, you are right. The key difference between that and your analogy to Christianity is that Skepticism isn’t a formal ‘movement’ (IMHO) or organization in the way Christianity is. It’s a concept, a methodology but it’s not got a documented series of tenets or belief system the way Christianity does. It goes back to the original question of this AI and as you can see, everyone has a slightly different viewpoint on what a skeptic is and what skepticism means. The tenets of Christianity are documented and, although they are open to interpretation, there is a standard documented set of beliefs that it’s based on. So it’s not surprising (or even really that interesting) that some people who call themselves skeptics don’t adhere to the ‘tenets’ of skepticism because those ‘tenets’ as documented, agreed-upon rules, don’t really exist.

    2. The WTC collapse has been investigated and documented by many sources. I’d recommend the “Why the Towers Fell” documentary that explains the physics of exactly what happened. There are others, but that’s the one I own. It was a NOVA special.

    I’d also recommend the Scientific American series of articles that investigated what happened and provided clear, scientific explanations for the physics of what happened.
    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=when-the-twin-towers-fell

    I am not familiar with the one point you are quoting and claiming is inaccurate but taking one point in the entire series of investigations and extrapolating that there is no explanation for what happened across the board is simply poor logic and not true. Also, it’s bad skepticism :)

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going back to dealing with the people yelling at me for not liking Twilight :)

  151. “you made a mistake when you were arguing with Seth”

    Kimbo – easy there. Just identify where I made a mistake with Seth, and if it is a mistake – I’ll admit it. That’s all I asked.

  152. Masala,

    I’ll take a look at the Scientific American series – thanks. I don’t expect a NOVA program to be anything other than a broad summary of other materials, and I think I saw it some time ago (but before I was focused).

    But the whole collapse of the towers discussion arose as an isolated, stand-alone scientific proposition – not as the problem with the 9/11 story.

    The problems with the investigation and the problems with there being a cohesive theory go much deeper than this isolated scientific issue that we have been discussing.

    I refer you to the quotes at #113 & #114 as exemplifying my own skepticism as to the current understanding of events and the need for a proper investigation.

  153. @TrueSkeptic: The comments you refer to (113 and 114) both reference two individuals who wanted the government investigation of 9/11 to be reopened or redone. You also appear to be saying that you don’t disagree with the scientific explanations that have been provided about 9/11. So I am still confused as to what component of the explanation that the government has provided is wrong – the people behind the attacks? If that’s the case, why are you going on about pancake theories?

    I ask, once more, what specifically, is the problem that you have with the ‘generally accepted’ version of the 9/11 events?

  154. @TrueSkeptic: Ok, if you insist on wasting my time. When I said “a mistake” I should have said “mistakes”. In no particular order:

    1) your assumption that being a lawyer means anything at all in a skeptical discussion.

    2) attributing people’s attitude toward you as a general attitude of skepticism.

    3) bringing up a series of (in your opinion) nebulous pieces of evidence as a sign of some sort of – what? I’m not even clear on what you’re trying to say here or why. Do a few nebulous facts negate every other fact or the overall explanation for the event itself? Does accepting those facts that do have supportive evidence make a skeptic blindly trustful of everything contained in every 9/11 report? Does acceptance of certain facts have any bearing on someone’s opinion of the government in general? If the answer to any of those is “no”, then why are you even discussing this? Maybe if I had a better insight into your motivation (and maybe if you stopped acting like a smug asshole who thinks he’s smarter than me) I’d be more receptive to your points.

    Seth has provided references to his statements, has admitted where he has wronged, and has clearly asked you to state your own position. To which you have replied with summaries of things already said as if that has any bearing on actual facts. You see, it’s your argument that I take issue with. This isn’t a trial where you get to provide a statement from some schmuck on an internet forum as evidence within the argument. It doesn’t matter what Seth said, it matters what evidence he has to support his statements. You also have to present actual facts and you have to put them into context. I have the same question as Masala. Just what is the point of all this? If you’d simply and clearly show the facts that back you up, I’d be more than happy to consider them.

    Feel free to ignore the entire previous conversation with Seth if you wish. What are you saying and why?

  155. Masala,

    I read the Scientific American article. The author has a BA in Natural Science and his entire career is in publishing. He was reporting on the results of a conference in October 2001, where experts reportedly got together to come up with various untested hypotheses for the collapses.

    To quote from the article:

    “Despite the expert panel’s preliminary musings on the failure mechanisms responsible for the twin towers’ fall, the definitive cause has yet to be determined.”

    For example, the pancake theory was discussed in the Article, but it was later dismissed by NIST scientists.

    Masala – NIST admittedly does not claim to have accounted for how the Towers failed after the original collapse initiation. NIST states there are theories to account for this, but like the pancake theory, they are only theories until tested. And like the pancake theory, once tested, they may be wrong. NIST could have pursued this line of inquiry to conclusion. It chose not to do so.

  156. @TrueSkeptic:

    But the whole collapse of the towers discussion arose as an isolated, stand-alone scientific proposition – not as the problem with the 9/11 story.

    The problems with the investigation and the problems with there being a cohesive theory go much deeper than this isolated scientific issue that we have been discussing.

    And yet, you are STILL GOING ON ABOUT PANCAKE THEORIES. The Sci Am and several other explanations show details of exactly why the towers fell (the documentary I referenced earlier does an excellent job of explaining it).

    And yet, once again, I repeat: You also appear to be saying that you don’t disagree with the scientific explanations that have been provided about 9/11. So I am still confused as to what component of the explanation that the government has provided is wrong – the people behind the attacks? If that’s the case, why are you going on about pancake theories?
    I ask, once more, what specifically, is the problem that you have with the ‘generally accepted’ version of the 9/11 events?

    Also, the Sci Am article is the only online version I could find of a much longer, detailed series that they did on the physics of what happened. But again, you say you didn’t have a problem with the scientific theories of what happened so I’m really confused.

    Go see Twilight. I hear it’s awesome.

  157. @TrueSkeptic: Kimbo – easy there. Just identify where I made a mistake with Seth, and if it is a mistake – I’ll admit it. That’s all I asked.

    ————

    Okay. You said that the NIST FAQ stated that the WTC construction required that the support trusses on some floor x had to support the weight of floor x+1 every day that the towers stood. That was a mistake.

  158. @TrueSkeptic: Your building up a theory in your head of what I understand a truss to be and then shooting down this imagined theory is funny. Really funny.

    ——————

    Well, here’s what you wrote:

    So, whoever at NIST wrote this 2007 response to a FAQ is the one talking about how many extra floors you can add on to a floor of the WTC before the floor starts to collapse.

    Now Seth is correct that this analysis is fatally flawed because that is not how skyscrapers work and this is why the pancake theory is a joke. The building is significantly supported by the structural vertical columns that distribute the gravitational load all the way to the base of the building.

    Here is what the NIST FAQ says:

    Consider a typical floor immediately below the level of collapse initiation and conservatively assume that the floor is still supported on all columns (i.e., the columns below the intact floor did not buckle or peel-off due to the failure of the columns above). Consider further the truss seat connections between the primary floor trusses and the exterior wall columns or core columns.

    Clearly, you either did not read the NIST FAQ, or you think that truss seat connections bear vertical load as a matter of basic construction.

    Of course, the NIST FAQ is stating that if you suddenly drop x weight, using WTC Floors as a unit, on these connections, they will fail. You interpreted that incorrectly. That is another mistake. Will you admit that mistake, or are you determined to persist in your current case of cranial/rectal inversion?

  159. Masala –

    You say you could not find the later Scientific American articles? It was easy:

    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=fahrenheit-2777

    Both articles are a big help to the overall discussion – I think I understand a number of things better now.

    This second article was written by Michael Shermer – a highly respected skeptic as I understand it. Shermer employs the faulty truss analysis that Seth is so dedicated to:

    “Temperature differentials of hundreds of degrees across single steel horizontal trusses caused them to sag–straining and then breaking the angle clips that held the beams to the vertical columns. Once one truss failed, others followed. When one floor collapsed onto the next floor below, that floor subsequently gave way, creating a pancaking effect.”

    This truss analysis (as I have been stating) that Shermer, Seth and the 2007 NIST FAQ supplement employ is only relevant to a floor-by-floor failure explanation for the collapse of the towers, otherwise known as the “pancake effect.” The NIST scientists could not support this explanation and rejected it, as Seth has conceded. But NIST’s rejection of the pancake theory was in 2006, and Shermer would not have known about it when he wrote this 2005 article.

    The first Scientific American article you cited also provides a convenient reference in support of my statement that, although the towers were were built straight up & down from the standpoint of the exterior of the building, the interior core steel columns that bore the bulk of the gravitational load were wider at the base of and thinner at higher levels:

    “The 90-foot-long central core, formed of massive vertical steel columns that held most of the building’s weight, contained elevator shafts, stairways and utility spaces, they said. The core’s columns were thicker toward the base to support huge accumulated gravity loads.”

    Seth had challenged me on the use of this engineering principle in the WTC tower construction: thicker base for supporting the accumulated gravitational load as you build upward.

    In 2005, Shermer did not yet have the NIST position on the Towers’ failure, nor would he have had access to the very many problems with the 9/11 Commission Report, which came out later and led to many eminent scholars, such as quoted in #113 & #114 above, expressing a very high degree of skepticism of the official story.

    I do not know much about Shermer, but if he is a good skeptic, then I am confident that with this updated information he would correct his statements on the Towers’ failure and adopt a more skeptical attitude as to whether the official story (as principally represented in the 9/11 Commission Report) should be accepted. This would be consistent with the theme developed during the course of this thread, which you supported, of skeptics being vigilant in their skepticism.

  160. @TrueSkeptic: You’re ignoring my responses and my follow up questions to your emails, which is a classic sign of trollage (along with the billion other classic signs you have displayed so far). I’m therefore going to ignore you.

    Have a nice day.

  161. Masala –

    It was not my intent to ignore your responses and follow-up questions. I was attempting to keep my responses short (as you had requested), while making progress in explaining my position, which you indicated you did not understand. (For the sake of efficiency – I also attempted to address points by others at the same time.)

    So I made clear that my problem with 9/11 is that it has not been properly investigated and explained (#190), and I thought I was making headway in correcting your misunderstanding that I was OK with the scientific explanations to date – I am not (I am not sure how you inferred otherwise).

    But let me see if I can identify your chief complaint. I assume that it is this:

    “And yet, once again, I repeat: You also appear to be saying that you don’t disagree with the scientific explanations that have been provided about 9/11. So I am still confused as to what component of the explanation that the government has provided is wrong – the people behind the attacks?”

    Again – most of my problem is what has not been explained – not what has been explained, as your question is phrased. Your claim that all the scientific issues have been addressed is wrong. They’re not explained (beyond unsupported theories) in Scientific American or in NOVA — these media sources don’t have the data to do what the NIST scientists admitted they did not do. All these sources would have is unproven theories (like Shermer) – the most prominent of which (including Shermer’s) the NIST scientists dismissed as not being supported by the evidence, which they exclusively possess.

    Until you have a proper investigation and a proper explanation as to the fundamental components of what occurred, then you cannot legitimately claim to know what occurred. You refer, for example, to whom was behind the attacks. Were prominent Saudis involved? The Pakistani ISI? Given how this occurred, these would be obvious suspects in terms of being part of the criminal conspiracy. A fundamental component of determining who was behind the attacks is tracing the funding. The famous quote attributed to Deep Throat: “Follow the money.” This is a basic, fundamental investigative effort – that would be pursued as to any ordinary criminal conspiracy.

    But here, the 9/11 Commission expressly decided not to follow the money!? And to borrow your hyperbole, there are a “billion” other examples of gaping holes in the investigation and explanation. I cannot possibly list them all, which you seem to be requesting. But I do agree with the prominent scientist, scholar (#113) and the prominent government intelligence veteran and scholar (#114), and Wytworm (#39) that the “government’s story” is woefully inadequate and that a proper investigation is needed before anyone claims to know what occurred and why.

    So allow me to finally ask a question – do you disagree with such complaints about the investigation/explanation to date and the need for a better investigation/explanation? And if so, can you state why it is that you disagree with me, professor Margulis (#113), professor Goodman (#114), and Wytworm (#39)?

    I’ll understand if you wish to ignore the matter instead, but I wanted to provide this clarification that you requested, in the event there really was a misunderstanding.

  162. @TrueSkeptic: Seth had challenged me on the use of this engineering principle in the WTC tower construction: thicker base for supporting the accumulated gravitational load as you build upward.

    —————

    Actually, no. I challenged you to point out where that was stated in a specific article. Which it wasn’t.

    Furthermore, the trusses don’t support the vertical weight. They support only the weight of a single floor. You claimed that the problem with the NIST faq was that the author was stating that the trusses had to support vertical weight. This was a mistake.

    Now you seem to be reverting to the idea that the second floor has to hold up all 100 floors above it, which is ridiculous. Which is it, TS?

    Which false theory of skyscraper construction do you want to support?

  163. @TrueSkeptic:

    But the whole collapse of the towers discussion arose as an isolated, stand-alone scientific proposition – not as the problem with the 9/11 story.

    The problems with the investigation and the problems with there being a cohesive theory go much deeper than this isolated scientific issue that we have been discussing.

    That is where I got the idea that your concern was not about the science. Apparently it is. I’m sorry, but I am still not going to get into this with you (although seth seems to be doing a fine job of it) because you continue to provide reasoning based on argument from authority. Well so-and-so, a prominent XYZ says more research is needed so it must be true. This is a complete contradiction, since you are picking and choosing the authorities you want to believe.

    Also, you’re taking one particular questionable explanation about one particular issue and extrapolating that to the whole overarching theory. Very creationist of you :)

    Finally, you don’t to provide any alternate explanations for what happened. Science is about the best possible explanation given the evidence. Is it possible we’ll find additional information about the science of 9/11 to supplement what we already know? Sure. Should more research be done? Maybe.

    Regardless, I am not sure again, what your point is or what you’re trying to prove with this particular argument. If you’re just hoping that we’ll all say “yep, the government is clearly wrong and lying about 9/11.” I don’t think that will happen. If it’s “maybe there is more to learn.” I don’t think you’ll get any disputes. There’s always more to learn.

  164. “Actually, no. I challenged you to point out where that was stated in a specific article. Which it wasn’t.”

    Actually that is not correct – it would be silly to simply argue about which article proves that I was correct. (Not that this would stop you from doing so.)

    “Furthermore, the trusses don’t support the vertical weight. “

    And you’ll not be able to cite a quote of mine where I say otherwise – this straw man argument is entirely yours.

    “You claimed that the problem with the NIST faq was that the author was stating that the trusses had to support vertical weight. This was a mistake.”

    No – I was not the one making the mistake. I was pointing out the mistake. Both the NIST FAQ in question and Shermer in Scientific American refer to the trusses being overcome by the gravitational load of the floors above them. Shermer’s description is much more clear:

    “Temperature differentials of hundreds of degrees across single steel horizontal trusses caused them to sag–straining and then breaking the angle clips that held the beams to the vertical columns. Once one truss failed, others followed. When one floor collapsed onto the next floor below, that floor subsequently gave way, creating a pancaking effect.”

    And as we know, this floor by floor (pancaking failure analysis) where you focus on the gravitational load overcoming the trusses floor by floor rather than the vertical columns that are designed to support the gravitational load was rejected by the NIST scientists (the ones with the evidence who performed the actual scientific analysis).

    “Now you seem to be reverting to the idea that the second floor has to hold up all 100 floors above it, which is ridiculous.”

    No – we have been through this before (many times now). This was my way of demonstrating that you cannot properly analyze a collapse caused by a gravitational load by focusing upon the support structures of individual floors, but then you already knew that, which I explained in detail in #152.

  165. And Seth – Masala asked that we stop getting into this nit-picking detail and focus upon the bigger picture issues. So perhaps you can answer this question:

    “Do you disagree with such complaints about the investigation/explanation to date and the need for a better investigation/explanation? And if so, can you state why it is that you disagree with me, professor Margulis (#113), professor Goodman (#114), and Wytworm (#39)?”

    After all, from a Skeptic’s point of view, this appears to be the more relevant inquiry, which I think was Masala’s point.

  166. @TrueSkeptic:

    “Do you disagree with such complaints about the investigation/explanation to date and the need for a better investigation/explanation? And if so, can you state why it is that you disagree with me, professor Margulis (#113), professor Goodman (#114), and Wytworm (#39)?”

    As I said, there may be relevant areas where additional investigation is needed. Honestly, I don’t have the data in front of me to provide specifics one way or the other. However, I think there is a difference between saying “There may be more details to investigate/discover” and “We can’t believe any aspects of the investigation.”

  167. Too funny. I was unaware all this was going on until Masala mentioned it this morning. I have wasted an enjoyable 45 minutes catching up.

    So we have TrutherSkeptic, an alleged lawyer, a biologist (post #113) and a former CIA operative specializing in the Soviet Union (#114), calling for a reopening of the investigation, because they disagree with all the metallurgists, architects, and physicists who reached the original conclusion.

    Might was well throw in the punks that made the Loose Change> movie so you can add “videographer” to the list.

    If I was a metallurgist and some biologist came up to me and told me I was full of shit when I said how steel behaves in a fire, I would get justifiably annoyed. Probably wouldn’t turn violent, but just say something about how she doesn’t know crap about mitosis and walk away.

    The problem with the claim that you should be skeptical of skepticism is that it can quickly turn into a reason to give nonsense beliefs credibility. “Sure, the skeptics say this is garbage, but they aren’t being skeptical of their own skepticism, so this stuff might just be true…”

    If you reject the notion that the planes + fuel were sufficient to bring the towers down, and that the collapse of WTC 1 & 2 did sufficient harm to WTC7 to bring it down, what does that leave?

    A conspiracy theory. Conspiracy theorists are the opposite of skeptics. They automatically believe whatever fits their twisted view of the world, regardless of the evidence. Anyone who argues is either ignorant, a patsy, or part of the cover-up.

    I have little doubt that our lawyer, biologist, KGB specialist, and videographer would welcome revisiting the evidence around the JFK assassination, the moon landing, and Area 51.

    Sad.

    It’s a shame we can’t get a Truther Vaccine. If enough blogs took it, the herd vaccination effect might prevent its spread.

  168. @TrutherSkeptic:

    Do you disagree with such complaints about the investigation/explanation to date and the need for a better investigation/explanation? And if so, can you state why it is that you disagree with me, professor Margulis (#113), professor Goodman (#114), and Wytworm (#39)?

    Not going to speak for Seth, but for myself:

    A biologist, a former CIA agent, and an alleged trial lawyer simply saying “I don’t buy it” to a report about a building collapse is insufficient reason to reopen anything.

    A better course would be to request clarification of points that are unclear. Perhaps a diagram describing the difference between a truss and a column? You don’t even have to track down the original authors — you can probably find a metallurgist or architect to flesh out details for you.

    After that, it becomes your burden to show how the NIST report is inconsistent with the observed facts. Perhaps if you can convince your metallurgist or architect friends that it is inconsistent, they can assist you in preparing a paper to submit to an appropriate peer-reviewed journal, where other scientists with experience in the related fields can address it.

    If your claim continues to hold up through that crucible, something will happen. That’s how science works.

    If you can’t convince anyone, either they are part of the cover-up or your are mistaken. I suggest being open to the possibility that the latter is true.

    Let us know how it goes. And don’t bother Steve Novella.

  169. @TrueSkeptic: No – we have been through this before (many times now). This was my way of demonstrating that you cannot properly analyze a collapse caused by a gravitational load by focusing upon the support structures of individual floors, but then you already knew that, which I explained in detail in #152.

    ———————

    Well, since we agree that truss supports don’t, as a matter of course, support the gravitational load of the building, we also agree that column thickness isn’t meaningful.

    Or do you prefer to continue to contradict yourself?

  170. @TrueSkeptic: Both the NIST FAQ in question and Shermer in Scientific American refer to the trusses being overcome by the gravitational load of the floors above them.

    ———–

    First off, the Shermer article is not relevant to a discussion of the content of the NIST FAQ. Second, the floor trusses were described in the NIST FAQ as having insufficient strength to hold a dynamic load of more than 6 floors. This is not the same as saying that those trusses support those floors all the time. The point was, in fact, that those trusses are not designed to take that kind of load.

    So, what mistake are you making? Did you make a trivial mistake of reading comprehension, or did you make a major mistake about the nature of a truss? Either way, you made a mistake, I’ve pointed it out, and I’ll keep hammering the point until you admit you made a mistake.

    Why? Because it points out that we can’t trust your intellectual honesty, that’s why. This isn’t a side issue, and it isn’t a nitty gritty issue. This gets to the heart of the matter: you, TS, will not acknowledge when you are wrong, and you don’t change your opinion based on new facts. You are the antithesis of a skeptic.

  171. @TrueSkeptic:

    I am not sure how one can be wrong about questioning the sufficiency of an investigation, the sufficiency of evidence, and the sufficiency of a cohesive conclusion about something, when no authority claims to have accomplished any of these things.

    Exactly.

  172. @TrueSkeptic:

    But Greeny – I have a question for you in the meantime. How does Seth’s previous mischaracterization of my comments affect your view of his credibility on this issue?

    I think the style of conversation you are both engaged in affects credibility of both of you in the negative. Thats just my opinion though. YMMV.

  173. @wytworm: Exactly.

    ——-

    Oh, bullshit. There are facts that are really not in doubt. Planes hit the WTC. WTC 1,2,&7 collapsed. The current, best theory is that the impact caused the collapse. The cause is sufficient for the effect, and the investigation into that matter was sufficient to make the case that the cause was sufficient for the effect.

    If, like TS, you want to challenge that sufficiency, you should have some clue what you are talking about. Since TS doesn’t, we can dismiss his challenge.

  174. @Kimbo Jones:

    One final post: TS, such a meeting would serve no purpose. Your identity being verified does not validate your points on 9/11, which is the topic under discussion.

    Yay! Arguments from authority are wrong not because the authority might be bogus, but because authority has no direct bearing on the validity of this or that claim.

  175. @Kimbo Jones:

    Which ignores the following facts: that not everyone that posts here is a skeptic, that not every skeptic is a good skeptic, that not every good skeptic is a perfect skeptic all the time, and that this is particularly not so in the casual circumstance of an internet forum.

    Do you lie anywhere near Boston? I think I am in love…. ;-)

  176. @phlebas:

    A conspiracy theory. Conspiracy theorists are the opposite of skeptics. They automatically believe whatever fits their twisted view of the world, regardless of the evidence. Anyone who argues is either ignorant, a patsy, or part of the cover-up.

    This is the crystallization of the ‘skeptical’ bias in this matter. The resistance to investigation is a fear of being labeled a ‘conspiracy theorist’ by other ‘skeptics’. Can we get a vaccination against that? Independent thought anyone?

    Are there ever any conspiracies? If so, if there has ever been even one, how can one reject out of hand theorizing on the existence of conspiracies?

    I will assume you don’t truly believe this, but had to respond to it.

  177. @phlebas:

    You have to concede that whatever side of the report you are on, no one actually knows what happened. It is all just some flavor of ‘our best guess’. The debate is about whether it really was their best guess or if their best guess is colored either by faulty reasoning, personal bias, or lack of sufficient evidence.

  178. @wytworm: You have to concede that whatever side of the report you are on, no one actually knows what happened.

    ————

    I don’t have to concede that at all. I agree that we don’t have perfect information, but we know what happened. Planes hit buildings. Buildings fell.

    Any other theory has a huge uphill struggle. For one thing, you have to invoke a conspiracy. You have to invent reasons for the conspirators to want to collapse the buildings. You have to invent ways for the conspirators to find the pilots to commit suicide. It gets very, very complicated.

    And the more complicated it gets, the more work you have to do to sell the plausibility of this conspiracy. Meanwhile, the evidence still all points to the planes/collapse theory.

    I don’t “fear” being labeled a conspiracy theorist. I just think that any explanation that requires a conspiracy has some extra work to do.

  179. @wytworm:

    You have to concede that whatever side of the report you are on, no one actually knows what happened. It is all just some flavor of ‘our best guess’. The debate is about whether it really was their best guess or if their best guess is colored either by faulty reasoning, personal bias, or lack of sufficient evidence.

    Why do I have to concede that?

    I’m not dealing with absolutes. Science doesn’t work that way. It’s all error bars and Occam’s Razor and best available evidence.

    Could it be shown that the airplanes didn’t bring the towers down? Sure. Is there evidence of any other cause? Not a shred, at least not shown so far. That could change tomorrow, although you’d be a fool to bet on it.

    If it was something other than the planes the brought the towers down, can you think of an explanation other than a conspiracy?

    The resistance to investigation is a fear of being labeled a ‘conspiracy theorist’ by other ’skeptics’. Can we get a vaccination against that? Independent thought anyone?

    Oversimplify much?

    When you investigate, use all the available data. When you get to a conclusion, share it with everyone. Others might point out errors in your thinking or another way to interpret the data.

    But that’s not what truthers are doing. They simply do not like the conclusion, so they are lying about and distorting the evidence to give their much more complex pet hypotheses some air time. They want to continue to investigate until they get the evidence they want, even if that takes until the end of time. As long as that evidence is not found, it’s being squelched by the people who profit from pushing the Official Story.

    If you’re doing that, you’re a conspiracy theorist and you have earned any scorn and ridicule from any critical thinker whose path you cross.

    And spare me the plea for “independent thought.” Automatically doubting every study that comes along is not being an independent thinker, it’s being an obstinate fool. “The government says it was the planes. It must not have been the planes…”

    Yes, read the studies, and look for things that don’t add up, and investigate them. It could be simply a typo, or it could be an angle the author didn’t consider, or any number of things, even including a giant pack of lies. That’s why we do peer reviews.

    Maybe it wasn’t the planes that brought down the towers. But since we all saw the planes fly into them, and we all saw the towers fall soon after, you’re going to have to come up with something pretty amazing that both points out flaws in the “plane” theory and how some other “bring-down-giant-skyscraper” agent could have been set off to look like the collapse was caused by planes (keeping in mind that there was absolutely no telltale residue of explosive agents mounted inside the buildings — unless that was a lie too).

    So yes. TrutherSkeptic is being a conspiracy theorist, and has earned a right proper mocking. You seem to be confusing the results of a scientific report as a “best guess” by someone who drew the short straw and got picked to write the report, and is no more valid, accurate, or credible than anyone who pulls some other theory out of his ass. Has anyone said they did NOT see Bigfoot beating on the tower walls with a giant sledgehammer?

    Scientists never claim to know beyond a shadow of a doubt what happened. They simply accept what the evidence says until more evidence or a better interpretation comes along. They leave the absolutes to the dogmatists.

  180. This is not science. It is a criminal investigation, which according to the FBI is ongoing. As is true for many criminal investigations – science plays a component role in the investigation, but it is not going to provide all the necessary answers.

    You cannot treat it as a casual scientific theory, where you do the best you can – put it on the shelf for a few years while you pursue something else, and later when you find the time, come back to it and tinker with it to see if you can improve it.

    The Bush Administration managed to have substantially more than 50% of the American people believing that Iraq was behind 9/11. There is substantial evidence that this was done deliberately.

    In the meantime, the only “official” story is the 9/11 Report, which by its own admission makes no claim of being an independent and comprehensive investigation. And the Commissioners are now all disavowing the Report, because they say that they were lied to and they also did not realize that much of what they wrote was the product of torture, which was then recanted post-torture.

    When you have a crime, it’s not good enough to say this is the best we’ve come up with so far, and if you do not have something better, we’re going with it.

    Asking “what do you have that’s better?” where a crime is involved is not good enough when prosecuting a suspect for the crime, nor should it be good enough as an argument for allowing an Administration to make major policy decisions at home and abroad.

    It would be one thing if there were a consistent, cohesive theory, supported by a proper investigation and proper evidence, but there is not.

  181. @TrueSkeptic: When you have a crime, it’s not good enough to say this is the best we’ve come up with so far, and if you do not have something better, we’re going with it.

    ————-

    Again: we know some facts. The facts point to the WTC collapses being the result of impact from planes.

    If you want to dispute that, you need to provide reasons why. You have not. So it is not “skepticism” to continue believing that there is some other cause, it’s just obstinacy.

  182. @TrutherSkeptic:

    Feh. You’re moving goalposts again.

    If you want to talk about motives for the attack and the Bush administration’s actions before and since 9/11, that’s one thing. What we’re talking about is this:

    (Solve for X)

    Planes hit buildings => X occurs inside buildings => Buildings collapse

    We have an answer for X that fits all the available data. You want a different answer for X, so it falls on you to explain why our answer isn’t sufficient.

    This is why I hate talking to people who play lawyer. They aren’t interested in the truth as much as they are interested in confusing a jury to get the verdict they’re paid to get.

  183. I did not move goalposts. There were two separate and distinct questions being put to me. There was Seth on the subject of the failure of the Towers below the plane impact. And there was Masala on the broader question of 9/11 as a whole. I did not conflate these two questions. I addressed the two separate issues (neither of which I introduced in the first place) and then was accused by multiple posters of using one to prove the other or vice versa.

    Oh well – such is the hazard of multiple branches of dialogue with multiple posters on a single thread.

  184. @TrueSkeptic: There was Seth on the subject of the failure of the Towers below the plane impact. And there was Masala on the broader question of 9/11 as a whole.

    —————

    So, basically, you admit that you have no evidence to suggest that the WTC towers were not brought down exclusively by the plane impact?

    In that case, what is it, exactly, that you think needs further investigation?

  185. @TrueSkeptic: You absolutely move goalposts. The ‘two separate’ threads are related – you are using one as evidence for the other. You are saying that you can’t believe the government explanation of 9/11 because of the issues you have and are discussing with Seth. And when pushed, you are now throwing in a whole lot of non-science, political issues to try to confuse the subject.

    Or maybe you’re just a REALLY poor communicator.

  186. @TrueSkeptic: I did not move goalposts. There were two separate and distinct questions being put to me.

    —————

    The reason that these get confused is because you keep saying to one set of people that “all” you are saying is that more investigation may be warranted, but you are clearly saying something complete different to me.

    To me, you are claiming to have the requisite expertise and knowledge to state with authority that there is a hidden cause to the WTC collapses. Now, either you are being dishonest with me and you have no such expertise and knowledge, or you are being dishonest with them and you are not simply making a plaintive call for more investigation. Which is it?

  187. @sethmanapio:

    I don’t have to concede that at all. I agree that we don’t have perfect information, but we know what happened. Planes hit buildings. Buildings fell.

    No one knows why the buildings fell. That was my point.

    For one thing, you have to invoke a conspiracy. You have to invent reasons for the conspirators to want to collapse the buildings. You have to invent ways for the conspirators to find the pilots to commit suicide. It gets very, very complicated.

    All you have to do is observe the difference between what evidence is observable and what conclusions it supports vs what evidence is speculative. After that it is just a matter of intellectual honesty. You can keep your thoughts on the conspiracy. I don’t see the relevance.

  188. “We have an answer for X that fits all the available data.”

    No you don’t. It’s understandable that you thought you did, because this misperception has been encouraged – just like the misperception that Iraq was behind 9/11 was encouraged.

    The only group in possession of the data needed to account for the failure of the Towers below the plane impact is NIST. The only real theory out there for the failure of the Towers below the plane impact region is the pancake (gravitational) theory.

    Now it is clear that the NIST scientists attempted to validate the pancake theory, because otherwise they could not have dismissed it, as they did. And for good reason, a close examination of the pancake theory matched with how the Towers collapsed would defy the laws of physics.

    But a failure of the professionals to validate a theory (demonstrably) will not keep the Bush Administration from peddling the theory. The CIA professionals were asked to validate the Iraq-Niger yellow cake purchase. They couldn’t do it. The document at issue was a forgery. But the Administration sold it anyway.

  189. @wytworm:

    No one knows why the buildings fell. That was my point.

    We have a solid explanation that conforms to all the known evidence. Solid enough, in fact, that any other suggested explanation will have a hard time accounting for the evidence.

    What more do you want? And, given what else you want, is it possible to know anything?

  190. “You absolutely move goalposts. The ‘two separate’ threads are related – you are using one as evidence for the other. You are saying that you can’t believe the government explanation of 9/11 because of the issues you have and are discussing with Seth.”

    No I didn’t Masala. And it’s two separate issues – not threads. You pulled me away from my debate with Seth and asked me to address the overall 9/11 question. Go back and look. Remember your frustration over the minutiae of a single, isolated scientific issue and your wanting me to address the overall question of 9/11?

    If the only problem with the government’s investigation and explanation is that they failed to explain the collapse of the Towers below the plane impact – 99+% of the deficiencies would be gone. And I would not be asserting a widespread failure to investigate and explain.

  191. @phlebas:

    Could it be shown that the airplanes didn’t bring the towers down? Sure. Is there evidence of any other cause? Not a shred, at least not shown so far. That could change tomorrow, although you’d be a fool to bet on it.

    I haven’t seen direct evidence of any cause. Neither have you. If one watches the video it is pretty clear that the planes didn’t bring the building down. They pretty much just disintegrated on impact. We also see smoke thereafter. Thats about all one can see. One might conclude that the buildings fell because of the power of the impact. I don’t think the evidence I have supports that. I have heard the speculation about a fire weakening this or that and I have heard speculation about demolition. I don’t really see where the evidence that I have access to supports either conclusion more or less.

    You can keep the conspiracy stuff to yourself. I don’t see the relevance.

    They simply do not like the conclusion, so they are lying about and distorting the evidence to give their much more complex pet hypotheses some air time. They want to continue to investigate until they get the evidence they want, even if that takes until the end of time. As long as that evidence is not found, it’s being squelched by the people who profit from pushing the Official Story.

    I think you would be better served by resisting the understandable urge to make sweeping generalizations and unsupported claims like this… Even if you could somehow prove that they all share the intentions that you cite, what difference does it make? The question is still the same — What does anyone living know about what happened? These sort of statements seem like unhelpful stone throwing to me.

    If you’re doing that, you’re a conspiracy theorist and you have earned any scorn and ridicule from any critical thinker whose path you cross.

    And spare me the plea for “independent thought.” Automatically doubting every study that comes along is not being an independent thinker, it’s being an obstinate fool. “The government says it was the planes. It must not have been the planes…”

    What is automatically believing every study that comes along? ‘The government says it was the planes. It must have been the planes’… Is that the standard of evidence you are applying?

    Are critical thinkers interested in dispensing ‘scorn and ridicule’? Should they be? What purpose does it serve?

    you’re going to have to come up with something pretty amazing

    Here it is: I don’t have enough evidence to draw a conclusion.

    Scientists never claim to know beyond a shadow of a doubt what happened.

    …so you must concede that whatever side of the report you are on, no one actually knows what happened. It is all just some flavor of ‘our best guess’.

  192. @phlebas:

    We have a solid explanation that conforms to all the known evidence. Solid enough, in fact, that any other suggested explanation will have a hard time accounting for the evidence.

    The problem is that all the known evidence supports both if not more theories. Ergo, to me the evidence cannot support any conclusion beyond a ‘this is our best guess at what happened’.

  193. @wytworm: Ergo, to me the evidence cannot support any conclusion beyond a ‘this is our best guess at what happened’.

    ——————-

    I call bullshit. Science isn’t “our best guess”. There is very little guesswork (random choice) involved. It is our best approximation. A conclusion based on evidence is not a “guess”. My Super Bowl* pick is a guess. Get the difference?

    It is not “speculation” that fire weakens structures. It is speculation that the planes may have dislodged the fireproofing, but given the kinetic force of the planes it is well founded speculation. Given that, the fire would certainly, not speculatively, weaken the structure.

    All known evidence does not support the existence of a second conspiracy (after all, the hijackers are a conspiracy themselves) that organized the demolition and the collision to cover it up. There is in fact no evidence to support that theory. There is no evidence of demolition (there was evidence of a fire). There is no evidence of the second conspiracy (there was plenty for the first).

    * This is a reference to the American Football championship game.

  194. @TrueSkeptic: If the only problem with the government’s investigation and explanation is that they failed to explain the collapse of the Towers below the plane impact

    ——————

    We’ve seen here that your critique of the impact/fire/collapse hypothesis is really poorly founded. So why do you persist in thinking that they haven’t provided an explanation? Are you simply unwilling to admit mistakes?

  195. @wytworm: After that it is just a matter of intellectual honesty. You can keep your thoughts on the conspiracy. I don’t see the relevance.

    ———–

    Well, any theory that involves demolition requires a second conspiracy that set up the first one. So that’s the relevance.

    The collapse of the towers is not an extraordinary event. They were hit by very large objects and set on fire. Then they were hit by another very large object when their tops fell down. It isn’t exactly a stretch to think that there could be a failure, somewhere, that would lead to total collapse.

  196. @wytworm:

    If one watches the video it is pretty clear that the planes didn’t bring the building down.

    I think one reason skeptics get a bad rep among the general population is that they can be extremely pedantic.

    Fine. The buildings obviously didn’t topple over when the planes hit like bowling pins. Maybe they were both going to fall over that morning anyway, and the planes just HAPPENED to pick that day to fly into them.

    But to be completely tedious about it — the planes certainly appear to non-insane-Truthers to be the carriers for the airplane fuel and the trigger that ignited the blaze which set off a series of events which led to a two big piles of rubble and a whole lot of dead people. Are you able to come that far?

    I have heard the speculation about a fire weakening this or that and I have heard speculation about demolition. I don’t really see where the evidence that I have access to supports either conclusion more or less.

    Then you aren’t reading closely enough.

    We know through countless observations what happens to steel when exposed to fire. We also know what is left behind when a building is brought down in a controlled demolition. We have evidence supporting one of those two events. Ergo — the former is by far the more likely scenario, given what we know right now.

    What is automatically believing every study that comes along? ‘The government says it was the planes. It must have been the planes’… Is that the standard of evidence you are applying?

    Of course not. You say “Why does the government believe the planes caused the problem?” In this case, you look at the evidence and say “oh, I see now.” Unless you are a conspiracy theorist, then you assume it’s false not because of the evidence, but because the government says it’s true.

    …so you must concede that whatever side of the report you are on, no one actually knows what happened. It is all just some flavor of ‘our best guess’.

    Sorry, I’m not going to explain the Scientific Method to you, or explain what a scientific theory is.

    But you are right. There are literally uncountable other possibilities as to what happened. I mentioned Bigfoot and a sledgehammer before. You could also posit UFOs with their Skyscraper Flattening Lasers. Perhaps microscopic black holes traveled through the towers at just the wrong time, and they twisted the steel in a way that looked EXACTLY like it was softened by fire. After all, no one testified that they didn’t see any of those things. Bigfoot might have a cloak of invisibility.

    But since we DID see airplanes hit, followed immediately by visible flames and billowing smoke, what seems more likely? Are you honestly saying that since we don’t have interior video, the UFO thing is just as likely as floors sagging and weakening the core?

    I’m hitting the road. Happy New Year, all!

  197. @sethmanapio:

    I call bullshit. Science isn’t “our best guess”. There is very little guesswork (random choice) involved. It is our best approximation. A conclusion based on evidence is not a “guess”. My Super Bowl* pick is a guess. Get the difference?

    Agreed. A conclusion based on evidence that does not support the conclusion however, is a guess.

    It is not “speculation” that fire weakens structures. It is speculation that the planes may have dislodged the fireproofing, but given the kinetic force of the planes it is well founded speculation. Given that, the fire would certainly, not speculatively, weaken the structure.

    So by your own example the conclusion reached rests on speculative guesses at what happened then what happened next etc etc… The conclusion reached in this manner cannot therefore be presented as fact, but rather as our best guess at what happened.

    All known evidence does not support the existence of a second conspiracy (after all, the hijackers are a conspiracy themselves) that organized the demolition and the collision to cover it up. There is in fact no evidence to support that theory. There is no evidence of demolition (there was evidence of a fire). There is no evidence of the second conspiracy (there was plenty for the first).

    The building fell. That is 50% of the evidence that we have. (The other 50% is that the planes hit). Buildings can fall when wired to fall. Buildings can fall if all the fireproofing fails and if some significant structural weakness follows due to some temperature being reached.

    Leave the conspiracy theory about a conspiracy theory out of it. It is irrelevant to the discussion. Whether or not you believe there is some conspiracy at play has no bearing on how the buildings fell .

  198. @sethmanapio:

    The collapse of the towers is not an extraordinary event.

    Based on what evidence?

    It isn’t exactly a stretch to think that there could be a failure, somewhere, that would lead to total collapse.

    I agree. Of course it isn’t the same thing as saying that it is what actually happened.

  199. Phlebas’s idea of a good skeptic – Dick Cheney:

    VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: No. What we do know – we know a number of things. We know that Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaida Organization clearly have already launched an attack that killed thousands of Americans. We know that for years he’s been the source of terrorist attacks against the United States overseas, our embassies in East Africa in ’98 — the USS Cole last year, probably, in Yemen. We know that he has over the years tried to acquire weapons of mass destruction, both biological and chemical weapons. We know that he’s trained people in his camps in Afghanistan, for example; we have copies of the manuals that they’ve actually used to train people with respect to how to deploy and use these kinds of substances. So, you start to piece it altogether. Again, we have not completed the investigation and maybe it’s coincidence, but I must say I’m a skeptic.

    JIM LEHRER:A skeptic.

    VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: I think the only responsible thing for us to do is proceed on the basis that they could be linked. And obviously that means you’ve got to spend time as well, as we’ve known now for some time, focusing on other types of attacks besides the one that we experienced on September 11.

    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/terrorism/july-dec01/cheneya_10-12.html

    I mean after all, the notes accompanying the anthrax attacks said “Allah is great – death to America.”

    How would Phlebas describe anyone who suggested that the investigation was insufficient to link the attacks to Muslim radical extremists? Well, he would say:

    “There are literally uncountable other possibilities as to what happened. I mentioned Bigfoot and a sledgehammer before. You could also posit UFOs”

    I think Phlebas’ position is the only responsible position – just as Dick Cheney told us. Nothing wrong with drawing conclusions without a complete investigation/explanation.

    Phlebas and Cheney — now there are a couple of true skeptics. ; )

  200. @phlebas:

    But to be completely tedious about it — the planes certainly appear to non-insane-Truthers to be the carriers for the airplane fuel and the trigger that ignited the blaze which set off a series of events which led to a two big piles of rubble and a whole lot of dead people. Are you able to come that far?

    That is one theory, agreed.

    We know through countless observations what happens to steel when exposed to fire.

    …but do we know what happened in the WTC? How do we know?

    We have evidence supporting one of those two events.

    …but no direct evidence. Just speculative.

    Ergo — the former is by far the more likely scenario, given what we know right now.

    If you are saying that is your best guess, I will note that and move on. I think you would agree that a ‘most likely scenario’ does not equate to fact or the truth and cannot honestly be presented as such.

    Unless you are a conspiracy theorist, then you assume it’s false not because of the evidence, but because the government says it’s true.

    …and if I am not a conspiracy theorist? Why might someone who is not a conspiracy theorist assume it might not be true?

    In my case I look at the scant evidence available and cannot conclude definitively how the buildings fell. With the evidence in hand it is unknowable.

    Bigfoot and a sledgehammer before. You could also posit UFOs with their Skyscraper Flattening Lasers.

    Certainly you could. Are you saying that controlled demolition falls into the realm of cryptozoology and UFO hunting?

    Are you honestly saying that since we don’t have interior video, the UFO thing is just as likely as floors sagging and weakening the core?

    I am saying that we have not enough evidence to conclusively say how the buildings fell.

  201. @wytworm: …but do we know what happened in the WTC? How do we know?

    ——————-

    Well, we can use this thing called math and figure out that there was enough energy from the plane crash to dislodge some fireproofing. And we observed the big fucking fire. So unless this is magic steel from Phaze, it deformed under the heat and pressure.

  202. @wytworm: Leave the conspiracy theory about a conspiracy theory out of it. It is irrelevant to the discussion. Whether or not you believe there is some conspiracy at play has no bearing on how the buildings fell .

    ———–

    Again, bullshit. I have a theory that you think is plausible. It requires one conspiracy, that we know existed. Your theory requires a completely different conspiracy that we don’t know exists, with mysterious motives. If, as you claim, all things are equal between demolition and plane/fire/collapse theories, then you are still at a disadvantage until you can present some plausible agent for the demolition, an agent that also manipulated the plane crews.

    It’s absolutely relevant that you are needlessly multiplying entities.

  203. @wytworm: Agreed. A conclusion based on evidence that does not support the conclusion however, is a guess.

    ————

    Great. So on what possible basis do you think that the conclusion is not supported by the evidence? There was a big fire. Heat deforms steel. Steel structures collapsed. Exactly which part of this do you have an issue with?

  204. @wytworm: Based on what evidence?

    ————

    Based on the fact that first, the towers were hit by two gigantic balls of kerosine and aluminum that subsequently stuck to the structure and burned for a very long time, and then the part of the structure below the impact had the part of the building above the impact dropped on it. This is a very unusual thing to have happen, and it doesn’t stretch the bounds of plausibility that it would cause the buildings to collapse.

    You want to add some other explanation, but the best reason that you can come up with is that it is remotely possible that your alternate explanation could be explained by the same facts. That’s not skepticism, that’s not applying Occams Razor, that’s just being an asshat.

  205. “So why do you think the towers fell?”

    Given the rate at which the Towers collapsed, any explanation for their collapse would have to include some cause that would very, very, very, very significantly comprise the steel column vertical supports, which were below the area of the plane impacts and below the area of the fires.

    Absent an explanation for taking out the vertical columns of the Towers (which were the supports for the gravitational load), you have no explanation for the collapse.

    That is an uncontrovertible scientific fact. If you believe anything to the contrary, you might as well argue that the earth is flat.

    Because the NIST scientists were unable to explain how the vertical steel columns beneath the impact and fire zones were compromised, the NIST scientists were unable to replicate or model the collapse mechanism beneath the impact zone in any fashion — not in their computer models nor by any other method of testing.

    This is just basic science. Basic laws of physics. I would make a James Randi challenge ($1,000,000) to anyone who claims they can explain the Towers’ collapse based upon the plane’s impact and resulting fires. Something that would hold up in a court of law (using civil [not criminal] burden of proof standards), which means more likely than not.

    It’s impossible. If the NIST scientists could have done this, they would have. Because they were instructed to only look at causes relating to the planes, they could come up with no answers, no explanations.

  206. Oh — and on the subject as to whether one should be “skeptical” of government claims that have not been sufficiently investigated and supported by evidence, read this article:

    http://www.nypost.com/seven/11022008/news/nationalnews/scientist_slam_fbi_thrax_probe_in_bid_to_136476.htm

    Scientists slam the allegation that Ivins was behind the anthrax attacks – working alone. They say this allegation is impossible. Imagine that?

    I’m sure that Phlebas and Seth would say that these scientists are whackos.

    Clearly phlebas and Seth place a very high degree of trust in Dick Cheney. lol.

    Everyone else, however, is hedging their bets. The FBI just came out with an official pronouncement that the they are very interested in the holes in the scientific explanation for the Tower collapses. You want me to quote the FBI?

  207. @sethmanapio:

    Well, we can use this thing called math and figure out that there was enough energy from the plane crash to dislodge some fireproofing. And we observed the big fucking fire. So unless this is magic steel from Phaze, it deformed under the heat and pressure.

    All you are establishing using this model is something that may or may not have happened. It does not add to what you know happened in any way. Best guess.

  208. @TrueSkeptic: Given the rate at which the Towers collapsed, any explanation for their collapse would have to include…

    ———

    Really? Says who? NIST says that “the collapse was initiated in the impact and fire floors of the WTC towers and nowhere else”. Their explanation is that the interior truss supports gave way, which destroyed the lateral integrity of the building.

    Now, according to you, that’s not true, and it can’t be true. How did you reach this conclusion? Why do you think that your analysis is so good, when other people, smart, independent people with no ties to NIST, think that the NIST analysis is fine? Since you know that you aren’t particularly knowledgeable in this area, have you considered the possibility that you might be wrong?

  209. @sethmanapio:

    Again, bullshit. I have a theory that you think is plausible. It requires one conspiracy, that we know existed. Your theory requires a completely different conspiracy that we don’t know exists, with mysterious motives. If, as you claim, all things are equal between demolition and plane/fire/collapse theories, then you are still at a disadvantage until you can present some plausible agent for the demolition, an agent that also manipulated the plane crews.

    You can inform your belief in any theory about why the planes hit the building or why charges were set in whatever way you choose, however it still does not alter that you do now know the cause of the building collapse.

  210. @wytworm: All you are establishing using this model is something that may or may not have happened. It does not add to what you know happened in any way. Best guess.

    —————

    Okay. There was a fire. We know that. That isn’t a fucking model, its a fact. The building was on fire. We know that fire deforms steel. Which part of this do you think is a guess?

  211. @sethmanapio:

    Great. So on what possible basis do you think that the conclusion is not supported by the evidence? There was a big fire. Heat deforms steel. Steel structures collapsed. Exactly which part of this do you have an issue with?

    There are no data points that support that what you cite actually occurred. It is only what you are guessing occurred based on a speculative chain of events.

  212. @wytworm: however it still does not alter that you do now know the cause of the building collapse.

    ————-

    Basically, this is your argument:

    Asshat: Leprechauns might have used magic to bring the towers down as a vicious prank.
    Me: Leprechauns? Do they even exist?
    Asshat: Hey! That isn’t relevant! Leprechauns can’t be eliminated!

    You are engaging, in other words, in the creationist fallacy. Because I can’t eliminate all possibility that it could have been demolition, you think that makes demolition plausible. But it doesn’t.

  213. @sethmanapio:

    This is a very unusual thing to have happen, and it doesn’t stretch the bounds of plausibility that it would cause the buildings to collapse.

    No it doesn’t. Nor does it prove it. The evidence does not support a conclusion. Just a best guess.

    You want to add some other explanation, but the best reason that you can come up with is that it is remotely possible that your alternate explanation could be explained by the same facts. That’s not skepticism, that’s not applying Occams Razor, that’s just being an asshat.

    I am not adding either explanation, I am noting that they exist and are equally unprovable given the evidence in hand, without relying on speculation and best guessing.

  214. @wytworm: There are no data points that support that what you cite actually occurred. It is only what you are guessing occurred based on a speculative chain of events.

    ———

    Again, bullshit. There was a fire. That is a fact. Fire deforms steel. That is a fact. Steel buckled and collapsed. That is an observed fact. None of this is a “guess”, or “speculation”, it’s observation and evaluation.

    Let me put it this way:
    Me: The heat easily could have caused the truss connections to weaken, leading to collapse. That seems to be the most likely scenario.
    Asshat: You’re just guessing! It could have been explosives, cleverly set to *look* like a fire!
    Me: !?!

  215. @wytworm: I am not adding either explanation, I am noting that they exist and are equally unprovable given the evidence in hand, without relying on speculation and best guessing.

    ——————

    No. They aren’t “equally” unprovable. The planes/fire/collapse theory explains all of the facts in evidence and requires nothing extra. Anything else requires something extra that is not in evidence, in other words, everything we know has to be true *and* some other things need to be true. Those are the things you want to add as being “equally” plausible.

  216. @sethmanapio:

    Okay. There was a fire. We know that. That isn’t a fucking model, its a fact. The building was on fire. We know that fire deforms steel. Which part of this do you think is a guess?

    What is a fact?

    How are the two pieces (that there was a fire, and that fire deforms steel) facts in this case?

    What evidence supports your claim that either or both are facts?

    What is the definition of a model?

    How is the concept model useful in forensic analysis?

    What is the relationship between facts and models in relation to the question at hand?

  217. @wytworm: How are the two pieces (that there was a fire, and that fire deforms steel) facts in this case?

    ———–

    Well, people saw the fire. And if we put flame and force on steel, the steel will deform.

  218. @sethmanapio: @

    Basically, this is your argument:

    Asshat: Leprechauns might have used magic to bring the towers down as a vicious prank.
    Me: Leprechauns? Do they even exist?
    Asshat: Hey! That isn’t relevant! Leprechauns can’t be eliminated!

    You are engaging, in other words, in the creationist fallacy. Because I can’t eliminate all possibility that it could have been demolition, you think that makes demolition plausible. But it doesn’t.

    Is it your assertion that controlled demolition and Leprechauns have an equal claim in existence? If not, is it a credible argument to make?

    Because I can’t eliminate all possibility that it could have been demolition, you think that makes demolition plausible. But it doesn’t.

    We might have a disconnect here on semantics. If by plausible you mean within the realm of possibility, then yes I do believe that the possibility that it could have occurred equates to plausibility.

    What do you mean when you say plausible?

  219. @wytworm: What is the relationship between facts and models in relation to the question at hand?

    ———

    Look, I know that all complex models suck. I’m writing a dissertation on it. But this is not a complex system. The models of simple systems are actually pretty good. We have tons of observation, from different angles, with clocks, the heat of various fires was tested… this isn’t just some story that 4 guys in a room made up based on a mathmatica program they wrote in a drug haze.

  220. @wytworm: Is it your assertion that controlled demolition and Leprechauns have an equal claim in existence? If not, is it a credible argument to make?

    ===========

    No. And Yes.

    Also, in this case, the leprechauns are actually your second conspiracy. It’s the magic powers that map to the explosives.

  221. @wytworm: What do you mean when you say plausible?

    —————

    I mean more strongly supported than the leprechaun theory. You have, basically, the same amount of evidence to support a demolition as you do for unicorn farts.

  222. @sethmanapio:

    There was a fire. That is a fact.

    Agreed

    Fire deforms steel. That is a fact.

    Disagree. It is more accurate to say fire can deform steel under certain conditions. Assuming for the moment that you are asserting these conditions were met, what data points back this up?

    Steel buckled and collapsed. That is an observed fact. None of this is a “guess”, or “speculation”, it’s observation and evaluation.

    Assuming you are correct, what evidence supports this ‘observation’ that the steel buckled and collapsed?

    What evidence/observation links the fire to the condition of the steel?

  223. @sethmanapio:

    What actual analysis have you done to support this statement?

    The analysis is based on the statements in this thread. That is to say, the evidence cited in the thread does not support a conclusion.

  224. @sethmanapio:

    What you ‘know’ about the ‘suck’ of complex models is not relevant to the discussion, except in that it indicates that we do share a common understanding of my use of the term model.

    We have tons of observation, from different angles, with clocks, the heat of various fires was tested

    Please cite your source.

  225. @sethmanapio:

    Also, in this case, the leprechauns are actually your second conspiracy. It’s the magic powers that map to the explosives.

    To which conspiracies are your referring? How did it become my conspiracy without my knowledge of it?

    I am unable to decipher the meaning of the magic powers mapping to explosives part of your response. Are you saying that you believe that controlled demolitions are fictitious?

  226. @sethmanapio:

    I mean more strongly supported than the leprechaun theory. You have, basically, the same amount of evidence to support a demolition as you do for unicorn farts.

    Agreed. The evidence in hand does not support either conclusion.

  227. @Seth: “Why do you think that your analysis is so good, when other people, smart, independent people with no ties to NIST, think that the NIST analysis is fine?”

    What people are you talking about – Seth? Nobody, and I mean nobody with any credibility and any credentials buys into the Cheney/Rumsfeld model.

    What did NIST say? NIST admitted that they could not model the collapse below the airplane impact:

    10. Why didn’t NIST fully model the collapse initiation and propagation of WTC Towers?

    The first objective of the NIST Investigation included determining why and how WTC 1 and WTC 2 collapsed following the initial impacts of the aircraft (NIST NCSTAR 1). Determining the sequence of events leading up to collapse initiation was critical to fulfilling this objective. Once the collapse had begun, the propagation of the collapse was readily explained without the same complexity of modeling.

    Let me translate this for you — they could not and did not model the collapse after the collapse initiation. If you have anyone who claims otherwise – who are they?

    #113 is a Scientist with the highest award that can be given to a US scientist — who do you have?

  228. @TrueSkeptic: “You want me to quote the FBI?”
    ——–
    @ Seth: “Yes.”

    You asked for it.

    Quoting from the FBI:

    “This is in response to your correspondence, dated November 7, 2008, to Director Robert S. Mueller, III in which you urged the FBI to consider the work of Richard Gage, founder of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, and his supporters in the ongoing investigation into the World Trade Center attacks. The Director’s Office forwarded your letter to the Counterterrorism Division for direct response to you.

    First, let me thank you for offering to provide information to the United States Government. The information the FBI receives from concerned individuals is critical to its mission of protecting the U.S. and its citizens against terrorism. As with all cases, the FBI will continue to examine the 9/11 investigation from every angle as new evidence develops, utilizing all leads available. Mr. Gage presents an interesting theory [No Shit], backed by thorough research and analysis [Reallly????? — maybe you should talk to Seth, Phlebas and Masala]. The case agents in charge of the investigation will undoubtedly review the relevant information before making an unbiased decision.

    Please be advised that your observations and concerns have not gone unheeded. The FBI is committed to identifying terrorist threats at home and abroad, and using the full force of the law to prosecute these individuals.

    Thank you for your time and efforts regarding this matter.

    Sincerely yours,

    Michael J. Heimbbach
    Assistant Director
    Counterterrorism Division
    National Security Branch

    Editorial comment: We, the FBI, are not going to take the fall for the Cheney, Rumsfeld, the Pentagon, and CIA, who shut us out of this.

    When asked why Bin Laden was not listed as a suspect for 9/11? The FBI responded – we don’t have evidence connecting Bin Laden with 9/11.

  229. Seth & Phlebas,

    Hey guys. In the event you are not already collecting a paycheck — you should!!

    Rumsfeld and Cheney are offering grants up to $5,000 for volunteers willing to go onto blog sites and shill for them. Really – it’s no joke. You make an application through the Homeland Security Department and you can get up to $5,000 for defending Cheney and Rumsfeld on blog sites.

    Seth – you are a graduate student and I assume are already getting this money. Phlebas – I don’t know who you are – but you would easily qualify for the $$ the way you act as an apologist for Rumsfeld and Cheney.

    I can give you a link to the application, if you are not already signed up.

    You guys aren’t bad — defending the indefensible. If you are not getting paid to do this – that’s just silly. Why play the fool for these guys if you are not going to get some cash for your efforts?

  230. Here is the link to Rumsfeld pleading for help in defending the Administration on Blog sites. If you listen to the whole thing – he talks about how difficult it is to find losers willing to shill for the Administration on blogs, but he emphasizes how important this work is:

    http://www.cfr.org/content/publications/media/2006/2-17-06_Rumsfeld.mp4

    I mean just because Rummy calls you a loser – aren’t you a bigger loser if you don’t get paid?

    Note how he asks for help in stating that they did not torture at Guantánamo Bay. These guys are desperate. Lucky they have a few volunteers.

  231. @TrueSkeptic: Let me translate this for you — they could not and did not model the collapse after the collapse initiation.

    ———

    TS, your “translation” does not actually add information, its meaningless bullshit from a person who knows nothing about modeling or structures.

  232. @wytworm: Assuming it to be true that fire and force will deform steel. One would still have to speculate that those conditions were met, since they were not observable.

    ———-

    You are high on crack. There was a fire. There was pressure. There was steel. What the hell do you mean, they were not observable?

  233. @TrueSkeptic: What did NIST say? NIST admitted that they could not model the collapse below the airplane impact:

    ————

    Ah, the bullshit. NIST did not say that. They did not fully model the impact after the initiation of collapse… because once the collapse started, the result was simpler.

    As to “no reputable scientist” buying the NIST explanation, here’s a list.

  234. @wytworm: To which conspiracies are your referring? How did it become my conspiracy without my knowledge of it?

    ————–

    Two explanations:
    1. plane/fire/collapse.
    2. Controlled Demolition.

    (2) requires an additional conspiracy not in evidence. To say that 1 and 2 are equally plausible is to support the existence of such a conspiracy, that is, you are arguing that it is just as plausible that some unknown group for unknown motives using unknown methodology (since no demolition prep work was observed) managed to hide the demolition AND use the airplanes as it to surmise that a group used the airplanes.

    This is clearly ridiculous. The “conspiracy” are the leprechauns, and the “magic” is them using explosives with no prep work, no traces, no witnesses, and no leaks.

  235. Seth — You cite to Popular Mechanics? Popular Mechanics? Really? Seriously? A trade magazine? A sales publication? This is your authority?

    Well, let’s quote from you authority:

    “FACT: Once each tower began to collapse, the weight of all the floors above the collapsed zone bore down with pulverizing force on the highest intact floor. Unable to absorb the massive energy, that floor would fail, transmitting the forces to the floor below, allowing the collapse to progress downward through the building in a chain reaction. Engineers call the process “pancaking,”

    Uh …. Seth …. how long are you going to go with the pancaking? You want for me to quote you? Or quote NIST? You both admitted that the pancaking theory was rejected.

    It’s impossible – Seth. Duh!

    Or are you going to flip-flop? Do I really need to quote your own words? Or should I quote the NIST scientists?

    You live in a fantasy world. Nobody can support the pancake theory rejected by the NIST scientists — it’s impossible.

    Why don’t you give us a cite in support of the bigfoot while you are at it. Or that the world is flat. Or creationism.

    Take your pick.

    What a stooge.

    Or maybe you are getting some of that Rummy blog money. I hope so. OMG.

  236. @TrueSkeptic: Quoting from the FBI:

    ————

    Found the original PDF. You added the editorial comments. Also, the letter does not support your contention that “The FBI just came out with an official pronouncement that the they are very interested in the holes in the scientific explanation for the Tower collapses.” They are not very interested. The letter is clear: Heibach isn’t going to do shit, or order shit done. He is confident that the agents in charge can deal.

    “The FBI is diplomatic when dealing with wingnuts” is not the same as “the FBI is very interested in”.

    And an unverified letter is not “an official pronouncement”.

  237. “Okay. How can I confirm that you are actually quoting from the FBI?”

    Because every time I cite to something it is correct.

    I know this is a strange concept for you – as you misquote everything.

    What’s wrong with you? Check it out yourself!

    Yes – NIST disagrees with you and the FBI disagrees with you.

  238. @TrueSkeptic: You live in a fantasy world. Nobody can support the pancake theory rejected by the NIST scientists — it’s impossible.

    ————–

    I’m sorry, but you seem to not understand the nature of support. See, if people think that NIST was able to do a thorough investigation, they probably would not reject their findings. You seem to think that in order to support their findings, they must reject them.

    Of course, you also think that NIST did not present a report with an explanation of events in it.

    And you seem to not understand the nature of a list. There is a list on the page I reference of people who could be contacted and have expertise. These people conclude from their knowledge and expertise that planes could have been responsible for the collapse.

  239. @TrueSkeptic: What’s wrong with you? Check it out yourself!

    ———

    I did. See above post where we discover that it can’t be confirmed, and that you added the editorial bit. It also doesn’t say what you say it says, but then, things so rarely do.

  240. Oh – now you’re calling both NIST and the FBI liars – that’s great Seth.

    NIST rejects the pancake theory that you keep citing to.

    And the FBI states that their investigation is ongoing, is not concluded, and they are interested in the well-supported scientific theories that fill in the gaps left open by NIST.

    But you reject NIST and the FBI — based upon what research do you do this?

    Is this SethWorld? Does the Easter Bunny exist in SethWorld?

    And you have never answered the question – Seth. Do you also believe that the eminent scholars quoted at #113 & 114 are crazy too?

    Everyone who disagrees with your whacky theories is crazy?

  241. @TrueSkeptic: Yes – NIST disagrees with you and the FBI disagrees with you.

    ————

    I made a mistake in communicating what NIST said. You keep hammering at that like it hurts my credibility or something. But of course, my mistakes in relating source material don’t actually change the source material.

    The difference between you and I, again, is that when I have a mistake pointed out I acknowledge it. You have made multiple mistakes and misrepresentations of the same FAQ and you have yet to acknowledge any of them. You don’t seem to realize that your failure to acknowledge your mistakes and misrepresentations doesn’t make them go away. It just means that all of your subsequent statements proceed from your ass.

  242. @TrueSkeptic: And the FBI states that their investigation is ongoing, is not concluded, and they are interested in the well-supported scientific theories that fill in the gaps left open by NIST.

    ——————-

    1. You lied about what the FBI said by adding a statement to the end of the letter.
    2. The supposed letter is a single source. It may or may not be authentic. It is not an official FBI pronouncement, as you said.
    3. You are interpreting the letter to say what you want it to. They do not say that they will review Mr. Gage’s theory. They do not say that the investigation is active. You are making that up.

  243. OMG you are hilarious — yes Seth … the FBI letter is really a forgery — created by an anti-semitic Holocaust denying conspiracy. LOL

    And Seth — you still have not given your position on Cheney’s claim that the anthrax attacks were from Muslim extremists. You agree with Dicky on that one too – right?

  244. @TrueSkeptic: OMG you are hilarious — yes Seth … the FBI letter is really a forgery — created by an anti-semitic Holocaust denying conspiracy. LOL

    —————-

    Ah… I see. So if I think that one grainy PDF might not be authentic, I’m LOL crazy. But if you think that it is very likely that a large conspiracy managed to install demolition charges in the WTC without anyone’s knowledge and then convince other people to run airplanes into the buildings in order to provide cover for the demolition, you’re just being skeptical.

    Okaaaaaaay.

  245. Seth – you incredible boob.

    The paper you now cite to directly contradicts PM and supports what I have been saying all along.

    You might not have noticed – but the paper you cited is on WTC7 — not the towers!

    On WTC7 NIST states what I have been saying all along – which is that you cannot explain the collapse rate without a full length failure of the main vertical supports, which you do not have in the Towers. Duh!

    Do I need to go back and give you the quotes on this?

    Are you really that dense?

    You cite to something that supports my theory and you think it is a rebuttal — OMG.

    Go to bed – Seth.

    Better yet — the FBI and NIST are combined in a great big conspiracy — and somehow they have been discovered by Popular Mechanics! LOL.

  246. What’s that – Seth?

    It’s impossible to plant explosives at the base of the WTC Towers without there being some mythical, inexplicable conspiracy?

    So — the 1993 explosives planted in the WTC Towers never happened in your view?

    That was all just another fantasy created to fool us – right?

    Which group was behind that one – Seth?

    The Lizard people? Aliens? The world-wild Jewish conspiracy? Or bigfoot?

  247. @TrueSkeptic: You cite to something that supports my theory and you think it is a rebuttal

    ———–

    So your theory is that rubble and debris from WTC 1 and 2 caused the collapse of 7, as described in this article?

  248. @TrueSkeptic: The paper you now cite to directly contradicts PM and supports what I have been saying all along.

    ——————-

    TS, I used PM simply to provide you with a list of scientists and engineers who are actually studying this. I’m not sure why you keep bringing it up. Is it supposed to be relevant?

  249. No – Seth.

    Any theory that claims to support the rate of collapse has to include the destruction of the vertical supports from top to bottom.

    How many times does this have to be explained to you. That’s how NIST explained WTC7 and that’s why NIST could not explain the Towers.

  250. Good-night Seth.

    I’ll leave you to your unsupported wild-ass theories.

    My New Years resolution is to write my latest book and not write on this Blog.

    Cheers.

  251. @TrueSkeptic: So — the 1993 explosives planted in the WTC Towers never happened in your view?

    —————-

    But there was a conspiracy in that case. Members of it are in jail. I don’t need to invoke the Lizard People.

    For something to be done by people, people have to do it. In this case you need people to set charges, cut supports, set up the plane attacks, and so forth. So, yes: you need a conspiracy to blow up a building in secret.

  252. @TrueSkeptic: That’s how NIST explained WTC7 and that’s why NIST could not explain the Towers.

    ———–

    You keep saying that. But NIST does explain the towers. A summary is in their FAQ… but since we’ve already established that you didn’t comprehend that document and won’t acknowledge your mistakes, I guess you just want to pretend they have no explanation.

  253. @sethmanapio:

    Great! You can show e the documentation then that demonstrates that this theory is actually what happened. Please send the link over. In the absence of knowing what the conditions were inside the buildings, the fact that under certain conditions it is possible deform steel is not that interesting. You would have to show not that it is possible, but that it actually happened. In the absence of this evidence you are left with a best guess at what happened.

  254. (2) requires an additional conspiracy not in evidence. To say that 1 and 2 are equally plausible is to support the existence of such a conspiracy, that is, you are arguing that it is just as plausible that some unknown group for unknown motives using unknown methodology (since no demolition prep work was observed) managed to hide the demolition AND use the airplanes as it to surmise that a group used the airplanes.

    This is clearly ridiculous. The “conspiracy” are the leprechauns, and the “magic” is them using explosives with no prep work, no traces, no witnesses, and no leaks.

    I am arguing that there is no evidence for either conclusion.

  255. @sethmanapio:

    But there was a conspiracy in that case. Members of it are in jail.

    Why do you think the members are in jail? Might it have been the result of investigation? Investigation that has not occurred in the more recent disaster.

  256. @sethmanapio:

    For something to be done by people, people have to do it. In this case you need people to set charges, cut supports, set up the plane attacks, and so forth. So, yes: you need a conspiracy to blow up a building in secret.

    Obviously there was a conspiracy. The planes didn’t fly themselves into the towers. You are just quibbling over what the nature of the conspiracy was. This is ultimately fruitless as there is no evidence in your hand when you speculate. Ultimately, it is irrelevant to the question of how the buildings fell as supported by the evidence in hand.

  257. I am with TS on this one. The useful part of the discussion ended about 250 responses back . Happy New Year all — I am outta here!

  258. I leave you guys alone for 14 hours and a real rumble starts.

    Well done, Seth. Dealing with one Truther who won’t believe that fire softens steel until you show him fire softening every piece of steel in the world, and another who thinks ad homs are an effective lawyer stunt. Must have been a fun NYE :)

  259. @wytworm: The useful part of the discussion ended about 250 responses back .

    —————

    Ah… but in context of the OP, these posts are very usefull. They illustrate a difference between truthists and truth seekers, between denialism and skepticism. TS, and to a lesser degree yourself, are doing a fantastic job of illustrating various tactics of denialism.

    1. Repetition of falsehoods.
    TS continually repeats the claim that NIST can’t explain the collapse of the towers. But NIST does explain the collapse of the towers. You keep saying that there was no investigation. But clearly, there was an investigation.
    2. Argument from authority: Nuff said.
    3. Ad Hominems: TS spends a lot of his time attacking me and very little addressing arguments.
    4. Time Machine: TS keeps bringing up my supposed support for the pancake theory, a mistake I acknowledged months ago. Denialists frequently travel in time, bringing outdated or superceded statements up out of context.
    5. Absurd Standards: You are describing the NIST report as a “best guess” because they can’t provide a level of evidence that is literally impossible to provide for any event after the fact.
    6. Reframing: I provided a list to TS of scientists and engineers at the end of an article. TS reframed that, pretending that I had endorsed every paragraph of that article.
    8. Whack-a-mole: TS never admits a mistake. In fact, he continues to press forward as if the mistake was never pointed out.

    For the purposes of the OP, I think this has been very instructive. We may not know what a skeptic is… but we can see what a skeptic isn’t.

  260. I forgot poisoning the well. TS and that whole Dick Cheney thing, total bullshit.

    @phlebas: Thanks. It took my mind off the traditional NYE gunfire. I swear I heard shotgun pellets land on my roof.

  261. Seth –

    Wytworm was very politely, methodically and logically addressing the issues.

    His respectful and polite dialogue was answered with a flurry of ad hominems, associating him with disreputable groups or beliefs, strawmen arguments etc.

    So I thought I would demonstrate how easy it is to throw out such arguments your way as well.

    You want to say alien hunters are on his side?

    Well Dick Cheney is on your side.

    Wytworm was telling you that such associations do not belong in a logical discourse, but you kept making them.

    So when I did the same thing to you – you claim foul. You claim that this is improper.

    Good. We can only hope that you have learned this lesson.

    But I won’t hold my breath. ; )

  262. @TrueSkeptic: So I thought I would demonstrate how easy it is to throw out such arguments your way as well.

    ——————-

    Which would have some weight if I had ever set up a strawman argument and attacked it, used Wytworms character as a reason not to accept his arguments, or presented guilt by association claims towards him. Since I didn’t, I guess we can see this as just another in your long line of self-aggrandizing bullshit.

    It would also have more weight if you hadn’t been using those tactics already. Since you were, I guess we can add this into the list of mistakes you’ve made that you won’t admit to having made.

  263. I’m declaring this thread “boring” and turning off the comments. Those of you who still wish to engage in this discussion should scroll up and reread the previous comments, which pretty much cover it.

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