9/11 Myths That People Still Believe

Photo Credit: iStock

Just like some people refuse to believe in the moon landing, there’s another great American myth that just won’t disappear: that the September 11th attacks were an ‘inside job’. Despite vast annals of evidence, an entire government fact-finding commission, video evidence, thousands of victims, and the impossibility of a near two decade long, multi-thousand person cover up….some people still believe it was an inside job. Welp, I hate to break it to you, but it just isn’t so. Below we have four-ish 9/11 myths that people still believe, but which just aren’t true.

1. But jet fuel can’t melt steel beams and the plane couldn’t do that much damage…

One of the more common conspiracies surrounding 9/11 is that ‘jet fuel can’t melt steel beams.’ Guess what…that’s right! It can’t. Experts agree that the steel didn’t have to melt for the building to collapse. Jet fuel burning at around 1100º F can weaken the structural integrity of steel by nearly 50%. 90% at 1800º F.  Tests of kerosene on steel have shown a bunch of different ways steel will bow, bend, and warp when extreme heat is applied. When that steel is supporting the wait of dozens of stories of offices? Recipe for disaster. Couple that with the fact that the planes ripped through their respective buildings and did significant damage to the interior core/structure of the skyscrapers, and the towers could not stand for long. And just for good measure:

Keep in mind, also, that the jet fuel wasn’t the only thing burning – there were multiple floors filled with combustible materials that caught fire and added to the destabilization of the building.

‘9/11 Truthers’ often point to the 1945 Empire State Building incident, when a B-25 Bomber slammed into the exterior of the building. “If that building didn’t come down, why did the World Trade Center?? Huh?” Well…that’s a matter of era and building materials. The Empire State Building was completed in 1931 and built with reinforced concrete columns and a thick masonry exterior, a density of 38 lbs per cubic foot. The World Trade Center was built in 1973 and designed completely differently, with the load-bearing core in the center and only a very thin exterior shell that had a density of 8-9 lbs per cubic foot, lighter than balsa wood.

Photo of workmen clearing the wreckage of the B-25 bomber that crashed into the Empire States Building at the 78th floor in 1945.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia

2. The puffs of dust coming out of the WTC windows were evidence of a controlled detonation/demolition.

Another myth that people won’t abandon. Because there were large puffs of dust/air/etc. escaping the windows of the WTC as it collapsed, it must mean that each floor was being independently destroyed with a controlled detonation, and that the timing of said detonation just happened to perfectly coincide, to the fraction of a millisecond with the rate of descent of a bajillion ton structure caving in on itself. I tell ya, that’s one heck of a demo expert.

Photo of the North Tower Collapse. The ‘puffs’ refer to the blowout on the right side of the building.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia

In reality, once the steel trusses supporting each floor were weakened to the point of collapse, the weight of all the floors above the collapsing area began to crush the floors below with intense force. Unable to absorb the massive weight and force of the descending floors, each floor below subsequently failed and collapsed upon impact.

Photo Credit: Mark Stetler

As is this case with any building of this type, there was a great deal of air inside. As each floor pancaked onto the next, all of the air, plus concrete and other debris being destroyed by the collapse, was forced out of the exterior of the building at a high rate of speed, giving it the appearance of explosions blowing out the windows.

Truthers will also point to an interview with demolition expert Van Romero in the Albuquereque Journal where he was allegedly quoted as saying, “There were some explosive devices inside the buildings that caused the towers to collapse,” and, “The collapse of the structures resembled those of controlled implosions used to demolish old structures.” Romero has maintained since the publishing of the article that he was completely misquoted. “I only said that’s what it looked like.” He even demanded a retraction from the paper after it’s publishing and has come out in support of the scientific conclusion of the events of the day.

Moral of the story here…take a cinder block and place it on the ground, lay a bunch of ketchup packets on it, then smash another cinder block on top of it. Does the ketchup explode out the sides? Alright then.

3. All things Pentagon.

Conspiracy theorists have really tried to rip this one to bits, even going as far as arguing that it wasn’t even a plane that hit the Pentagon, but a missile. Despite the facts that hundreds of commuters saw the plane crash into the Pentagon and at least two people on board called their families to tell them about the hijacking, there are still many doubters. So, let’s tackle a few of these.

First, ‘the hole was too small’. How does a plane that is 125 feet wide make a hole only 12 feet wide? Conspiracy theorists often like to use this picture to prove their point:

A hole in the inner ring of the Pentagon caused by the landing gear of Flight 77
Photo Credit: Wikimedia

They fail to mention, though, that this is a picture of the inner ring of the Pentagon. The hole in the exterior of the building was 75 feet wide, and looked like this:

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

And also like this:

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Why only a 75 foot wide hole though? Well, a jet crashing into a massive, reinforced structure designed to withstand external attack wouldn’t create a cartoon-like outline of itself as it plunged into the building. Upon descent, one wing of the 757 dragged the ground and was ripped off. The other was sheared off by the plane’s impact with the load-bearing columns of the Pentagon. The rest of the plane spewed further into the Pentagon, behaving more like a liquid than a solid, as it was pulverized on impact.

Second: “But there were windows still intact right by the impact location.” Yup, you’re right. Because those windows are blast-resistant glass designed to withstand the detonation of an explosive device. When the portion of the building collapsed, the windows were destroyed….but they were not destroyed by the initial impact.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

And lastly for the Pentagon, “But there was no debris from the plane”…

Photo Credit: Wikimedia 1, 2, 3

4. WTC 7, the Air Force stood down, Flight 93 was a flying coffin, etc.

There are COUNTLESS other conspiracies that there simply isn’t enough article space to tackle. So let’s just finish up with a few quickies.

First, truthers claim that building 7 of the World Trade Center was a controlled demolition orchestrated by the government. Well, according to all contemporaneous analyses of building 7, the thing got hammered with debris from the collapse of buildings 1 and 2 – about 25% of the depth of the building on the bottom 10 floors was ‘scooped’ out. Additionally, fires broke out all over the building, most notably a 5th floor fire that burned for 7 hours, untouched. There was not a single fire-fighting effort for the building…for obvious reasons.

The bottom several floors of WTC7 heavily damaged and on fire.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Second, “No fighter jets were scrambled, so the Air Force must have been told to stand down to allow the attacks to be carried out.” At the time of the attacks, there were only 14 fighter jets on alert in the lower 48 states. There was also no automatic computer system looking for missing planes. Admittedly, communication that morning was a JUMBLED MESS, but at no point was there anything resembling a stand-down order. By the time the appropriate calls were made to the appropriate bases notifying them of the hijackings, all of the targets had already been hit. Two F-15s were scrambled out of a base in Massachusetts and three F-16s from Langley, but none of them got anywhere even remotely close to the hijacked planes. Oh, and the hijackers turned off each of the plane’s transponders, making it nearly impossible to track them down.

Lastly, “All of the passengers from the four planes were herded onto Flight 93 and it was shot down in Pennsylvania.” Considering that all of the communications occurring at the time of Flight 93’s crash show that defense command was unaware the plane had even been hijacked, this is highly unlikely. Add to that, the number of victims on all of the jets exceeds the capacity that could fit on a 757, shooting the secondary claim in the foot as well.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

There are a dozen or so other conspiracies dealing with every aspect of the 9/11 attack, all of which have been tackled in a recent, extensively researched Popular Mechanics article that incorporates the work of several experts and eyewitnesses. At this point, holding onto these conspiracy theories despite the overwhelming evidence just seems silly.