How Science Died at the World Trade Center

Science has been misused for political purposes many times in history. However, the most glaring example of politically motivated pseudoscience—that employed by U.S. government scientists to explain the destruction of the World Trade Center (WTC)—continues to be ignored by many scientists. As we pass the 10th anniversary of the introduction of that account, it is useful to review historic examples of fake science used for political purposes and the pattern that defines that abuse.

An early example of pseudoscience used to promote a political agenda was the concerted Soviet effort to contradict evolutionary theory and Mendelian inheritance. For nearly 45 years, the Soviet government used propaganda to foster unproven theories of agriculture promoted by its minister of agriculture, Trofim Lysenko. Scientists seeking favor with the Soviet hierarchy produced fake experimental data in support of Lysenko’s false claims. Scientific evidence from the fields of biology and genetics was banned in favor of educational programs that taught only Lysenkoism and many biologists and geneticists were executed or sent to labor camps. This propaganda-fueled program of anti-science continued for over forty years, until 1964, and spread to other countries including China.

pseudoscienceIn the 2010 book Merchants of Doubt, authors Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway describe several other examples of the misuse of science, spanning from the 1950s to the present. They show how widely respected scientists participated in clearly non-scientific efforts to promote the agendas of big business and big government. Examples include the tobacco industry’s misuse of science to obfuscate the links between smoking and cancer, the military industrial complex’s use of scientists to support the scientifically indefensible Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), and several abuses of environmental science.

As Oreskes and Conway made clear, science is about evidence. “It is about claims that can be, and have been, tested through scientific research—experiment, experience, and observation—research that is then subject to critical review by a jury of scientific peers.” In science, if experiments performed do not support a hypothesis, that hypothesis must be rejected. If conclusions fail to pass peer-review due to a lack of supportive evidence or the discovery of evidence that directly contradicts them, those conclusions must be rejected.

From Lysenkoism through the examples given by Oreskes and Conway, politically motivated pseudoscience demonstrates a pattern of characteristics as follows.

  1. There is a lack of experiments.
  2. The results of experiments are ignored or contradicted in the conclusions.
  3. There is either no peer-review or peer-reviewer concerns are ignored.
  4. The findings cannot be replicated or falsified due to the withholding of data.
  5. False conclusions are supported by marketing or media propaganda.
  6. Hypotheses that are supported by the evidence are ignored.

All six of these characteristics of pseudo-science are exhibited by the U.S. government investigation into what happened at the WTC on September 11th, 2001. That investigation was conducted by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) and it had much in common with the examples given by Oreskes and Conway. As with the false science that supported tobacco use, millions of lives were lost as a result—in this case through the “War on Terror.” Like support for the Strategic Defense Initiative, the abuses were focused on supporting the military-industrial complex. And as with the environmental examples, NIST’s manipulations affect everyone on the planet because they prop up a never-ending war.

In terms of historical experience, the destruction of the three WTC skyscrapers was unprecedented. No tall building had ever experienced global collapse for any reason other than explosive demolition and none ever has since that time. In terms of observation, nearly everyone who examines the videos from the day recognizes the many similarities to explosive demolition. Perhaps the most compelling evidence in favor of the demolition theory is that the NIST WTC Reports, which took up to seven years to produce, exhibit all six of the characteristics of politically motivated pseudoscience.

The lack of experiment:

NIST performed no physical experiments to support its conclusions on WTC Building 7. Its primary conclusion, that a few steel floor beams experienced linear thermal expansion thereby shearing many structural connections, could have easily been confirmed through physical testing but no such testing was performed. Moreover, other scientists had performed such tests in the past but since the results did not support NIST’s conclusions, those results were ignored(see peer-review comments below)

The results of experiments were ignored or contradicted in the conclusions:

  • For the Twin Towers, steel temperature tests performed on the few steel samples saved suggested that the steel reached only about 500 degrees Fahrenheit. This is more than a thousand degrees below the temperature needed to soften steel and make it malleable—a key requirement of NIST’s hypothesis. NIST responded by exaggerating temperatures in its computer model.
  • Another key requirement of NIST’s explanation for the Twin Towers was that floor assemblies had sagged severely under thermal stress. Floor model tests conducted by my former company Underwriters Laboratories showed that the floor assemblies would sag only 3 to 4 inches, even after removal of all fireproofing and exposure to much higher temperatures than existed in the buildings. NIST responded by exaggerating the results—claiming up to 42-inches worth of floor assembly sagging in its computer model.
  • After criticism of its draft report in April 2005, NIST quietly inserted a short description of shotgun tests conducted to evaluate fireproofing loss in the towers. These results also failed to support NIST’s conclusions because the shotgun blasts were not reflective of the distribution or trajectories of the aircraft debris. Additionally, the tests suggested that the energy required to “widely dislodge” fireproofing over five acre-wide floors—required by NIST’s findings—was simply not available.

There was no peer review and public comments from peers were ignored:

NIST published its own WTC reports and therefore its work was not subject to peer-review as is the case for all legitimate science. The people and companies involved in the NIST investigation were either government employees or contractors dependent on government work and were therefore not objective participants.

In terms of indirect peer-review, the international building construction community has made no changes to building construction standards in response to NIST’s officially cited root causes for the WTC destruction. Furthermore, no existing buildings have been retrofitted to ensure that they do not fail from those alleged causes.

NIST provided a period for public comment on its draft reports but the comments provided by those not beholden to government were not supportive of NIST’s findings. In some cases, as with NIST’s linear expansion claim for WTC 7, independent scientists submitted comments about physical tests they had performed (which NIST had not) that directly contradicted NIST’s findings.

There was one important exception to NIST’s ignoring of public comments. After a physics teacher’s well-publicized comments, NIST was forced to admit that WTC 7 was in free-fall for a vertical distance equivalent to at least eight stories of the building. Structural engineers have since noted that many hundreds of high-strength steel bolts and steel welds would have had to vanish instantaneously for an 8-story section of the building to fall without any resistance.

The findings cannot be replicated or falsified due to the withholding of data:

NIST will not share it computer models with the public. A NIST spokesman declared, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, that revealing the computer models would “jeopardize public safety.” Because NIST’s conclusions depend entirely on those computer models, they cannot be verified or falsified by independent scientists.

False conclusions are supported by media or marketing propaganda:

As with the Soviet propaganda machine that supported Lysenkoism and the tobacco industry’s marketing propaganda, NIST’s pseudoscience was fully and uncritically supported by the mainstream media. Hearst Publications, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), and Skeptic magazine are examples of media that went to great lengths to stifle any questioning of the official account and divert attention from the glaring discrepancies.

NIST depended on that media support as indicated by the timing of its release of reports. NIST’s final report appeared to be scheduled for dual political purposes, to coincide with the seventh anniversary of 9/11 and to give the appearance of finished business at the end of the Bush Administration. The timing of NIST’s other reports coincided with political events as well. These included the draft report on the towers in October 2004—just before the election, the final report on the towers—just before the fourth anniversary of 9/11, and NIST’s first “responses to FAQs”—just before the fifth anniversary. All of them appeared to involve politically motivated release dates.

The report release dates allowed time for the media to quickly present the official story while public interest was high, but did not allow time for critical review. With the report on WTC 7, the public was given just three weeks prior to September 11th, 2008 to comment on a report that was nearly seven years in the making.

Hypotheses that are supported by the evidence were ignored:

Throughout its seven-year investigation, NIST ignored the obvious hypothesis for the destruction of the WTC buildings—demolition. That evidence includes:

  • Free-fall or near-free fall acceleration of all three buildings (now acknowledged by NIST for WTC 7)
  • Photographic and video evidence demonstrating the characteristics of demolition for both the Twin Towers and WTC 7

The WTC reports produced by NIST represent the most obvious example of politically motivated pseudoscience in history. The physical experiments NIST performed did not support its conclusions. The reports were not peer-reviewed and public comments that challenged the findings were ignored. NIST will not share its computer models—the last supposed evidence that supports its conclusions—with the public and therefore its conclusions are not verifiable.

These glaring facts should be readily recognizable by any scientist and, given the unprecedented impact of the resulting War on Terror, this abuse of science should be the basis for a global outcry from the scientific community. The fact that it is not—with even Oreskes and Conway ignoring this most obvious example—indicates that many scientists today still cannot recognize false science or cannot speak out about it for fear of social stigma. It’s possible that our society has not suffered enough to compel scientists to move out of their comfort zones and challenge such exploitation of their profession. If so, the abuse of science for political and commercial purposes will only get worse.

Kevin Ryan blogs at Dig Within.

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  • Marv Sannes

    A sure sign of “false” is the immediate response: War declared on 9/14/01, or marshal law the evening of the Boston drill/bomb, or the Charles de Gaulle sails for the war in days. The certainty and sudden response seems a dead give-a-way to being part of the plan. Johnson reverses the Vietnam plan 8 days after JFK killing. Too soon, too obvious.

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  • goingnowherefast

    Just observe who benefits and you know who the real culprits are. Not lone nuts or religious extremists, but very powerful interests intent on increasing their power and control.

  • kimyo

    In terms of historical experience, the destruction of the three WTC skyscrapers was unprecedented. No tall building had ever experienced global collapse

    perhaps instead of global you meant ‘complete’?

    global warming ‘science’ also fails to meet at least a few of the criteria you list. the raw data and models must be made available for public scrutiny before billions more dollars are wasted fighting an imaginary enemy. (ie: further enriching the 0.01%)

    for me, the epa lost all credibility in the days after 9/11 when christie todd whitman said ‘the air is safe to breathe’. clearly, like at nist, there is no respect for science or sense of decency in the upper echelons of that agency. when they keep intoning ‘climate change is the most fearsome weapon of mass destruction’ all i hear are the hollow reverberations of brian williams’ nonsense re: iraq/iran’s massive nuclear arsenal.

    the raw data on vaccine and pharmaceutical trials must also be made public. why? The FDA buries evidence of fraud in medical trials. My students and I dug it up.

    For more than a decade, the FDA has shown a pattern of burying the details of misconduct. As a result, nobody ever finds out which data is bogus, which experiments are tainted, and which drugs might be on the market under false pretenses. The FDA has repeatedly hidden evidence of scientific fraud not just from the public, but also from its most trusted scientific advisers, even as they were deciding whether or not a new drug should be allowed on the market.

    • jonik

      Since the “tobacco” industry was mentioned in the article as obfuscating links between its products and cancer, and since the FDA is charged with “regulating tobacco”, it’s worth noting that this FDA is NOT required to set foot on a tobacco plantation, and may not…without the owner’s permission.
      That is…the FDA is allowed to merrily ignore the 450 or so pesticides registered for use on tobacco, and the PO-210 radiation that comes to much tobacco from the Still Legal use of contaminated phosphate fertilizers.
      Fine. If the FDA doesn’t visit a tobacco farm, it can simply test the tobacco and cigarettes for pesticide residues, chlorine and dioxin, and carcinogenic radiation. But there’s no hint that the FDA does this or will do it….or that it will even warn unsuspecting, secretly-poisoned victims. This has to do with the Dept of Agriculture and how the FDA can’t/won’t interfere in its turf. The FDA, preposterously, will not even require proper labeling of “tobacco products” that contain absolutely no tobacco but, instead, fake tobacco made in US Patented ways from all sorts of waste cellulose materials…none of it likely organic. Nope…The FDA calls it all “tobacco” whether it is or is not. Could be Wood Pulp or Peanut Shells. No matter. If it looks like tobacco, smells like tobacco…etc etc.

      This FDA service to the cigarette industry, protecting it from astronomical penalties, liabilities, PR disasters and profit losses, and similarly protecting the pesticides makers (which include Pharms and chlorine interests), and the fertilizer suppliers (and all their investors), is easily the biggest charge against the FDA. It’s as fake a “regulatory” agency as can be imagined, across the board.
      References exist about the pesticides, chlorine (and dioxin), the rads, and untold more toxic, carcinogenic non-tobacco components of typical cigs are collected at , or easy search for “Fauxbacco”, OR at easy searches for “pesticides tobacco”, “dioxin cigarette smoke”, “radiation tobacco”, etc. No secret. Just ignored…for the benefit of mass homicidal industries that make the 9/11 bombers look like amateurs.

  • FDNY 9/11 Survivor Witness and Whistleblower: Speaks on WTC 7 May 25, 2014

    In this video Luke Rudkowski interviews FDNY member Rudy Dent who on the day of 9/11 was witness to the collapse of infamous World Trade Center 7. Rudy Dent – Vietnam War veteran, four year member of the NYPD and thirty-two year FDNY firefighter. As a firefighter on 9/11, he was at Ground Zero and was there when Building 7 came down. In this episode of 9/11 Free Fall, he relives his experience that day, recounting how he believes the buildings in New York were brought down in controlled demolitions.

  • jadan

    There were 7 buildings in the World Trade Center complex. The twin towers, WTC 1&2, and #7 were the tallest. WTC 3 was 22 stories. WTC 4 was 9 stories. #5 was also 9 stories, and WTC #6 was 8 stories. All of these buildings were either completely destroyed or substantially destroyed… the impact of two airliners. We hear about 1, 2, & 7, but when the total destruction is considered, the official explanation appears utterly ridiculous. 911 truthers often don’t seem to know the extent of the destruction, much less the cause. The perpetrators of 911 understand science very well, but most Americans are poorly educated and have little capacity for critical thinking.

  • Toni Marshall

    Thank you publishing your wonderful article bringing attention to the reasons to question our government’s flawed explanations for the fall of 3 World Trade Center building on 9/11 in 2001.

  • originalone

    This certainly dovetails into the “dumbing down” of the education here in the U.S.A. After all, “an educated mind, is a dangerous mind”, when things like this take place, especially when the Government is involved. How sad that this has been allowed to happen, all for the profit of war, as I see it. The “Rape of the U.S.Treasury”, and what have we to show: a lot of death and destruction, a lot of wasted lives in the military men & women who fought these wars on terrorism, which I have yet to see any that have been won.

  • clarioncaller

    To insure that there would be NO scientific examination of steel girders, Giuliani had all the girders collected and shipped off to China before the dust settled. I’m anxiously awaiting the Russian release of satellite evidence on 9/11 over Manhattan. Perhaps, that is why Netanyahu is calling all Jews home to Isreal.

  • signalfire1

    Please read Jeff Prager’s amazing research on nukes and 9-11; there is no way thermite, no matter how weaponized, could have taken down those buildings by itself and produced ALL the results seen; I believe that Stephen Jones and the thermite hypothesis is a ‘limited hangout’ designed to vilify and confuse the truth movement – because if it ever did go to a new trial, thermite would be laughed out of the room. What source of energy disintegrated all the office contents and 1000 bodies? One which we’ve had in our and more importantly, in Israel’s, arsenal for 60+ years now. Be wary of the tendency to ridicule and laugh at the idea of nukes – that’s the biggest way ‘they’ control you. And don’t think ‘they’ wouldn’t hesitate to nuke another city if it served their purposes. Possibly no other realization is more important to wake up the still sleeping sheeple than this one:

  • Jeff Prager

    I have tried repeatedly to discuss my findings with Dr. Jones to no avail. Perhaps you, Mr. Ryan can address or discuss the issues with me? My issues are concerning my analysis of the USGS dust samples and the atmospheric results by Dr Thomas Cahill, Delta Group, US Davis, which proved underground temperatures between 2500º F and 6500º F as late as October 30. Dr. Cahill used the following terminology: “soil and glass were boiling” and new particles were being newly “regenerated,” which he could tell from the soot on the larger particles but what impressed him most was that the range of micron-sized particles and below, typically called “very fine particles” was extraordinarily high. The USGS analysis is just 23 pages, mostly graphs and very little text, located here:

    If you’re interested in Dr. Cahill’s findings, and I hope you would be since he’s the worlds foremost nuclear atmospheric physicist, I’ll provide links if you respond to the data in the link above.”


    Jeff Prager
    Founder & Former Publisher
    Senior Magazine

  • mksharma62

    Follow the money, you will find the criminals.