The fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks will soon be here. The events of that obscenely tragic day on American soil still to this day affect me in ways that are almost too personal to express. Anger, horror, grief, determination, and vigilance are just a very few of the words I would use to describe my feelings about 9/11. Outright fury, however, I reserve for the conspiracy theorists, leeches who have used 9/11 as yet another hitching post on their road to "exposing" global clandestine cabals whose invisible tentacles reach into the corridors of the very highest levels of the the U.S. government. For them, no fact based upon rigorous investigation can dissuade them from their dogmatic belief that some nefarious faceless conspiracy pulls all the strings. To them, 9/11 is just another historical event to display their mental prowess of seeing behind the curtain by vomitting out their ill-thought out theories upon the ignorant public.
I've recently finished the book Debunking 9/11 Myths by David Dunbar and Brad Reagan, the editors of Popular Mechanics. One of the myths that fuel conspiracy buffs is the idea that the World Trade Center towers could not have collapsed from just the damage from the plane impacts, and the resultant fires. They had to be brought down by timed explosives, like those used in a planned demolition. The two facts they often cite are: jet fuel does not burn hot enough to melt steel; and the presence of molten steel in the debris after the towers fell. Now, most conspiracy hounds are not trained scientists (the great effort it takes to ignore sustainable and reproducible facts tends to be a limiting factor for such a population), but this particular theory had a fully tenured professor of Physics at BYU as a feather in its cap, Steven Jones, the co-founder of "Scholars for the 9/11 Truth." Debunking 9/11 deftly disproves this theory (read it for yourself, or visit the website for the baloon-puncturing details), but that didn't stop Dr. Jones from publishing his "findings" in the book 9/11 and American Empire: Intellectuals Speak Out. Now that book has gotten Dr. Jones into trouble with BYU, while their academic review board investigates whether his actions violate the provisions of his tenure. In a statement to The Desert Morning News in Salt Lake Utah:
BYU is "concerned about the increasingly speculative and accusatory nature of these statements by Dr. Jones...BYU remains concerned that Dr. Jones’ work on this topic has not been published in appropriate scientific venues."
A comment out of the University of Utah:
At the University of Utah, Physics Department Chairman Pierre Sokolsky said destruction of the towers typically would be a field within the expertise of engineers.
“This is not physics,” Sokolsky said. “I don’t want to comment on BYU’s actions. But if someone in my department was doing this, I would find it disconnected from the academic activities of the department.”
It goes without saying, of course, that if Dr. Jones thought his research would stand up to the scrutiny of a peer-reviewed journal, he would have sought that avenue for his work. Where he did publish it speaks volumes for exactly the kind of "proof" he actually had.
H/T to my brother for pointing out the Dr. Steven Jones was caught up in the Cold Fusion Hoax from the 1980's. Unlike Stanley Pons' team from the University of Utah where their research was completely fabricated, Jones' research methodology was regarded to be more theoritically thorough, but did have some experimental errors in it.
According to the story in The Desert Morning News, BYU doesn't grant tenure to its professors, but confers a "Continuing Status" to professors who have performed well for over 6 years. I regret the error.