Monday, April 23, 2007

Follow-up Questions for Steven Jones

At the end of our previous correspondence, you invited me to ask follow up questions. These are the immediate questions I have regarding you responses. These are certainly not all the questions I have, but as I have a difficult enough time getting a clear answer on these subjects, I will try and limit myself to the key points.

First of all, I would like to readdress the infamous “angle cut” picture that you repeatedly use. First of all, you admitted this photo was the “subject of much discussion”, and then stated that “the metal-cutting device employing thermite is well known and documented”. First of all, on what basis do you call this completely unnamed device “well known and documented”, when it has never been used in building demolitions, and the sole reference you can find for it is a paper in your own journal, 4 months after the paper which we are discussing. Do academic papers now employ the use of time travel devices for their footnotes? How in the world, under any reasonable definition, can this be considered “well known and documented”?

Regardless, you completely avoid the key question, which is why should one believe that this angle cut was created through the use of this entirely speculative thermite device, when the overwhelming evidence points to the use of acetylene torches? I am no scientist, but I am fairly aware of the scientific process, which involves coming up with the most likely hypothesis, and then trying to prove it right or wrong through experimentation and analysis. In this case we have the use of torches, which have been used by millions of ironworkers over the last century, which were known to be used at ground zero, and which produce angle cuts exactly like the one in question. None of this is open to dispute. On the other hand we have “thermite” devices, which even 5 years later have never been used in building demolitions, are not commercially available, do not produce straight angle cuts like those in question, and cannot be demonstrated to be able to produce such a cut. So why exactly do you skip past the most obvious explanation, and speculate on the explanation which is least likely to be true? This is Occam’s Razor, in reverse.

Secondly, regarding your “thermite” device, it does not do what you would claim it would. The video on the link that you sent, shows a device cutting through a small steel rod

No dimensions are given, but I think we can both agree that the steel rod is no more than an inch in diameter. In fact the patent for the device you cited reads, “The preferable range of thickness t for materials cut by the apparatus 1 of the present invention is about 0.25 to 2 inches.”

If you look at the size of this device in your example, and then scale it out to one of the massive WTC columns, it becomes quite apparent that for just one column you would require a number of devices approaching the size of a small refrigerator, weighing hundreds of pounds, and requiring 360 degree unobstructed access to these columns.

Please explain to me how it would even be possible, much less likely, for the “covert demolition teams”, to get uninhibited access to hundreds of these core columns in a highly secure and occupied office building, to install these absolutely massive devices, so that they can attach them, all without anyone noticing.

Also please explain how none of these hundreds, if not thousands, of what would surely be distinctive looking devices, which by their very nature would have to be built to withstand tremendous pressure and temperature, were not found in the wreckage of the World Trade Center, by any of the hundreds of firefighters, police officers, iron workers, FBI agents, and various other investigators who were involved in the cleanup. In fact, why is one of these devices not shown in the photo you are using? They should be attached to that very column. Why would these conspirators use such a complicated device, knowing that it could easily be discovered in the aftermath?

After you explain all of this, please explain why all of that is the more likely hypothesis, than simply accepting that the column was cut with an oxyacetylene torch, like the hundreds of other columns which are known to have been cut using these torches?

As far as question #3, addressing the photo of pancaked floors on display in a New York hanger, I cannot really ask any follow-up questions, since you never answered the question in the first place. All you responded with was the fact that Janette MacKinlay took the photo. Unless Ms. MacKinlay, and not you, is responsible for the assertions in your paper, I couldn’t care less who took this picture. Do you disagree with the fact that this picture is not of molten iron, but rather “actually several floors of the towers compressed together as the buildings collapsed”? If not, then how do you explain that once again you have misrepresented photographic evidence without making appropriate efforts to determine its origin?

As regarding the lack of standards at your “journal”, you also avoided the key question, which is, is there a conflict of interest having your paper published by the journal you founded, and an editor who owes his position to you, and who is a prominent source for the paper in the first place?

Your only response was to express the fact that you apparently were satisfied with the performance of Mr. Ryan. This was not up for dispute; in fact I would be willing to bet that you are ecstatic with his performance. That is the point. I would also be willing to bet that had Mr. Ryan coordinated a critical review process which led to serious challenge, or rejection of the findings of your paper, which were significantly based on the findings of Mr. Ryan himself, that you would be extremely dissatisfied with his behavior. In fact, that could potentially lead to the end of the journal entirely. That is why it is called a conflict of interest. What possible reason could Mr. Ryan have for ensuring a rigorous academic review of your paper? In fact he would have every motivation to ensure this absolutely did not occur. This is not a criticism of Mr. Ryan, I am merely pointing out the ridiculous nature of this arrangement, which to my knowledge is entirely out of the bounds of accepted academic standards.

Thanks for your time,
Screw Loose Change Blog