Saturday, September 11, 2010

David Ray Griffin on Distinguished Despisers of the 9/11 Truth Movement: Some Selected Passages

Blogger's Note: I am reproducing here only a very limited extract from Griffin's July 6, 2010, web publication at, though I highly recommend reading this long article in its entirety.

My purpose in doing this is threefold: (1) to introduce you to Griffin's always-well-researched and on-the-mark writings on the events of 9/11, (2) to introduce you to some of the liberal intellectuals who despise the 9/11 Truth movement, and (3) to provide background for the wholly original article that I am also posting today (don't miss it!).

Left-Leaning Despisers of the 9/11 Truth Movement: Do You Really Believe in Miracles?

An Open Letter to Terry Allen, Noam Chomsky, Alexander Cockburn, David Corn, Chris Hayes, George Monbiot, Matthew Rothschild, and Matt Taibbi [1]

by David Ray Griffin [2]

Global Research, July 6, 2010

According to several left-leaning critics of the 9/11 Truth Movement, some of its central claims, especially about the destruction of the World Trade Center, show its members to be scientifically challenged. In the opinion of some of these critics, moreover, claims made by members of this movement are sometimes unscientific in the strongest possible sense, implying an acceptance of magic and miracles.

After documenting this charge in Part I of this essay, I show in Part II that the exact opposite is the case: that the official account of the destruction of the World Trade Center implies miracles (I give nine examples), and that the 9/11 Truth Movement, in developing an alternative hypothesis, has done so in line with the assumption that the laws of nature did not take a holiday on 9/11.

I.  The Charge that 9/11 Truth Theories Rest on Unscientific, Even Magical, Beliefs

Several left-leaning critics of the 9/11 Truth Movement, besides showing contempt for its members, charge them with relying on claims that are contradicted by good science and, in some cases, reflect a belief in magic. By “magic,” they mean miracles, understood as violations of basic principles of the physical sciences.

For example, Alexander Cockburn, who has referred to members of the 9/11 Truth Movement as “9/11 conspiracy nuts,”[3] quoted with approval a philosopher who, speaking of “the 9-11 conspiracy cult,” said that its “main engine . . . is . . . the death of any conception of evidence,” resulting in “the ascendancy of magic over common sense, let alone reason.”[4] Also, Cockburn assured his readers: “The conspiracy theory that the World Trade Centre towers were demolished by explosive charges previously placed within them is probably impossible.”[5] With regard to Building 7 of the World Trade Center, Cockburn claimed (in 2006) that the (2002) report by FEMA was “more than adequate.”[6]
Blogger's Note: Like David Ray Griffin, I too admire these "left leaners" in all they do ...except for their disparagement of the 9/11 Truth movement. 
Alexander Cockburn is an Editor of the web magazine CounterPunch which, in addition to many articles supportive of liberal causes, published a series of three articles by a Ph.D. physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Manuel Garcia, purporting to provide a "primer" to aid the layman to understand the physics of the official conspiracy theory of the 9/11 attacks. Since I'm a Ph.D. physicist of similar national-laboratory stature, I decided to work through Garcia's first article to assess his reasoning. And when I did so, I found his "primer" to be egregiously faulty. Thus I became motivated to explain these faults in my second-ever post at Cherche la Verite. Please revisit it. It's readable by the layman, contains some physicist humor, and has just been upgraded by adding a photograph (something I didn't know how to do back in my early days as a blogger). 
I will now skip over Griffin's thoughtful and fair selection of comments by six of the eight left-leaning despisers of the 9/11 Truth Movement ...but not before listing some of the names they have been calling those of us who are members of that movement: 
"9/11 conspiracy nuts,” fantasists,” “conspiracy idiots,” “morons,” “idiots,” “The 9/11 Faith Movement,” “9/11 conspiracy silliness,” “9/11 conspiracy poison,” “9/11 fabulists”
However, here below are Griffin's comments on, and quotes from, Noam Chomsky's much more measured position on non-official 9/11 conspiracy theories:
Noam Chomsky has also declared that the available facts, when approached scientifically, refute the 9/11 Truth Movement. Speaking of evidence provided by this movement to show that 9/11 “was planned by the Bush Administration,” Chomsky declared: “If you look at the evidence, anybody who knows anything about the sciences would instantly discount that evidence.”[10] In spite of his dismissive attitude, however, Chomsky in 2006 gave some helpful advice to people who believe they have physical evidence refuting the official account:

“There are ways to assess that: submit it to specialists . . . who have the requisite background in civil-mechanical engineering, materials science, building construction, etc., for review and analysis. . . . Or, . . . submit it to a serious journal for peer review and publication. To my knowledge, there isn't a single submission.”
Blogger: Kudos to Chomsky for this advice! And now we skip ahead to Griffin's Section II, subsection 8...

II.  Miracles Implied by NIST’s Explanation of the WTC’s Destruction

The main reason why NIST’s [National Institute of Standards and Technology] theory of the destruction of the World Trade Center is profoundly unscientific is that it cannot be accepted without endorsing miracles, in the sense of violations of fundamental principles of physics and chemistry. I will demonstrate this point in terms of nine miracles implied by NIST’s accounts of the destruction of Building 7 of the World Trade Center (WTC 7) and the Twin Towers (WTC 1 and 2).

8. Inextinguishable Fires

Besides having the power to produce the miraculous effects already reported, the World Trade Center fires were also miraculously inextinguishable. The fact that fires continued burning in the Ground Zero rubble for many months, in spite of every attempt to put them out, was widely reported. The title of a New York Times story in the middle of November, two months after the attacks, referred to the “Most Stubborn Fire.” A New Scientist article in December was entitled “Ground Zero’s Fires Still Burning.” Very hot fires continued to burn in the Ground Zero debris piles, these stories reported, even though heavy rains came down, millions of additional gallons of water were sprayed onto the piles, and a chemical suppressant was pumped into them.[105]

According to Greg Fuchek, vice president of a company that supplied computer equipment to identify human remains at the site, the working conditions at Ground Zero remained "hellish" for six months, because the ground temperature ranged from 600 to 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit (316 to 816 degrees Centigrade).[106]

These inextinguishable fires were a mystery. Assuming the truth of the official account of the destruction of the World Trade Center, there would have been nothing in the debris pile other than ordinary building materials, and these can burn only in the presence of oxygen. There would have been little oxygen available in the densely packed debris piles, and wherever it was available, the fires should have been easily suppressed by the enormous amounts of water and chemical suppressants pumped into the piles. The fires’ seemingly miraculous power to keep burning could not be explained by the airplanes’ jet fuel (which some people seem to think of as having miraculous powers, even though it is essentially kerosene), because it would have all burned out, as mentioned above, within a few minutes.

A non-miraculous explanation is suggested by the discovery of a large amount of nanothermite residue in the WTC dust, which was reported in a peer-reviewed scientific journal in 2009.[107] Being both an incendiary and a high explosive, nanothermite is one among several types of “energetic nanocomposites” – described by an article in The Environmentalist as “chemical energetic materials, which provide their own fuel and oxidant and are not deterred by water, dust or chemical suppressants.”[108] The discovery of nanothermite residue in the dust provided, therefore, an empirical basis for a non-miraculous explanation of the long-lasting fires at Ground Zero.

According to the official account, however, the buildings were all brought down without the aid of any incendiaries or explosives. WTC 7 was said by NIST, as we saw above, to have been brought down by fire alone, and this fire, NIST added, was “an ordinary building contents fire.”[109] As for the Twin Towers, they were brought down through the combined effects of the airplane impacts and the ensuing fires: NIST explicitly rejected “alternative hypotheses suggesting that the WTC towers were brought down by controlled demolition using explosives.”[110]

For anyone who accepts the official account, therefore, the inextinguishable underground fires at Ground Zero provide still another demonstration of miraculous powers that must have been possessed by the World Trade Center fires.
Blogger's note: Having already writen the above, philosopher and theologian David Ray Griffin leaves me, the physicist, little to do in my following blog but fill in some of the details.
[1] As those who know the history of modern theology are aware, one of its seminal writings was Friedrich Schleiermacher’s Speeches on Religion to Its Cultured Despisers (1799). These “cultured despisers” of religion were people whom Schleiermacher admired and with whom he agreed on most issues. He believed, however, that they had a blind spot with regard to religion, mainly because they did not understand its true nature and the experience on which it is based. I address those I call “left-leaning despisers of the 9/11 Truth Movement” in the same spirit.

[2] David Ray Griffin is the author of 36 books dealing with various subjects: philosophy, theology, philosophy of religion, philosophy of science, and 9/11 and US imperialism. In September 2009, The New Statesman ranked him #41 among “The 50 People Who Matter Today.” His most recent book is The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the Final Official Report about 9/11 is Unscientific and False (2009). His next book will be Cognitive Infiltration: An Obama Appointee’s Plan to Undermine the 9/11 Conspiracy Theory (September 2010).

[3] Alexander Cockburn, “The 9/11 Conspiracy Nuts,” ZNet, September 20, 2006 ( A shorter version appeared in the September 24, 2010, issue of The Nation.

[4] Alexander Cockburn, “The Conspiracists, Continued – Are They Getting Crazier?” The Free Press, September 16, 2006 (

[5] Alexander Cockburn, “Conspiracy Disproved: Distractions from Awful Reality,” Le Monde Diplomatique, December 2006 (

[6] Ibid.

[105] Eric Lipton and Andrew C. Revkin, “The Firefighters: With Water and Sweat, Fighting the Most Stubborn Fire,” New York Times, November 19, 2001 (; Jonathan Beard, “Ground Zero's Fires Still Burning,” New Scientist, December 3, 2001 (

[106] Trudy Walsh, “Handheld APP Eased Recovery Tasks,” Government Computer News, 21/27a: September 11, 2002 (

[107] Niels H. Harrit, Jeffrey Farrer, Steven E. Jones, et al., “Active Thermitic Material Observed in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe,” The Open Chemical Physics Journal, 2009, 2: 7-31 (

[108] Kevin R. Ryan, James R. Gourley, and Steven E. Jones, “Environmental Anomalies at the World Trade Center: Evidence for Energetic Materials,” The Environmentalist, 29 (2009): 56-63, at 58, 56.

[109] NCSTAR 1-9, Vol. 1: 330.

[110] NIST, “Answers to Frequently Asked Questions,” Question 2.

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