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    AE911Truth Reaches Out to Philosophers and Engineers Print E-mail
    Written by AE911Truth Staff   
    Thursday, 19 June 2014 01:27

    Peer review sought for official WTC 7 report


    Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, was host to the 2014 Forum on Philosophy, Engineering and Technology (fPET) for three days at the end of May. The mission of this international forum is to foster scholarship and reflection by teachers and practitioners of ethics, engineering, philosophy, technology, the social sciences, and education.

    Nearly 50 papers and lectures were presented by authors from North America, Europe, and China. The wide-ranging topics covered engineering education, the social responsibilities of engineers, pedagogical techniques for ethics, and case studies on engineering ethics. Among the latter was a case study titled "Neglecting Peer Review: A Case Study of Engineering Ethics and the Official Reports about the Destruction of World Trade Center Building 7 (WTC 7) on 9/11," written by AE911Truth Presenter Team members Wayne Coste and Mikie Smith, and presented by Coste at the forum.

    Coste pointed out that members of the scientific, engineering, and academic communities normally rely on peer review — which is now understood as meaning oversight by and accountability to qualified members of a relevant field — to enhance the quality, integrity, and credibility of a product. Absent peer review, he said, it is possible for errors and omissions to be incorporated into a report or study. Ever since its inception in 2006, AE911Truth has been calling for a peer review of the official accounts of 9/11, as well as of its own scientific theory of what happened to the three demolished World Trade Center buildings.

    ae-since-2006Since 2011, the banner "Standing up for engineering ethics since 2006" has been used by members of AE911Truth in their outreach efforts to the professional community

    The AE presentation began with a quote from Scott Knowles, an associate professor and interim head of the history and politics department at Drexel University as well as an author whose expertise is in disaster investigations. In a 2003 paper for the journal History and Technology, titled "Lessons in the Rubble: The World Trade Center and the History of Disaster Investigations in the United States," Dr. Knowles wrote that "... conflicts over authority, expertise, memory, and finally the attribution of responsibility suffuse the history of disaster in the United States. History shows that with time, a community of engineers and scientists has generally proven able to explain the technical particulars of a structural collapse.... [T]he 'disaster investigation,' far from proving itself the dispassionate, scientific verdict on causality and blame, actually emerges as a hard-fought contest to define the moment in politics and society, in technology and culture."

    The paper that AE authors Coste and Smith wrote talked about the history of the peer review process, which some experts claim has its origins in state censorship and was implemented through state-supported academies (Fitzpatrick, 2011). But as modern professional codes of ethics have evolved, noted Coste and Smith, peer review is no longer confined to those historical roots.

    For their case study, the AE911Truth presenters' paper reviewed the Federal Emergency Management Agency's investigation of World Trade Center Building 7 after it was destroyed on 9/11. The FEMA investigation, conducted by its adjunct engineering team and sponsored by the American Society of Construction Engineers, arrived at this conclusion: "The specifics of the fires in WTC 7 and how they caused the building to collapse remain unknown at this time.... [T]he best hypothesis has only a low probability of occurrence. Further research, investigation, and analyses are needed to resolve this."

    Coste-at-fPETWayne Coste presents his paper to the fPET session "Social Responsibilities of Engineers."Next, the paper by Coste and Smith discussed the National Construction Safety Team Act Reports (NCSTAR) on WTC 7, which were authored by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce. When developing its WTC 7 reports, NIST passed over opportunities for significant peer review and public comment. By foregoing peer review, NIST negligently drew unsupportable conclusions and omitted essential facts about the destruction of the 47-story skyscraper.

    Almost seven years after WTC 7 and the Twin Towers were leveled, NIST gave the public only one opportunity to comment — in 2008 — during which time a physics teacher asked a question about the freefall acceleration of WTC 7 as it collapsed. Shyam Sundar, the lead NIST investigator, commented that freefall was impossible because "a free fall time would be [the fall time of] an object that has no structural components below it." However, NIST eventually acknowledged that WTC 7 was in free fall for at least 105 feet of its collapse. Even though NIST confirmed the observation of free fall, it didn't revise its engineering models or correct the public reports to acknowledge that the entire supporting structure near the bottom of the building suddenly offered zero resistance. NIST's observation about zero resistance could occur only if all the supporting columns on eight floors of the building were destroyed synchronistically — a feat that fire alone could not have accomplished.

    Coste informed the audience that once the NCSTAR 1A "Final Report on the Collapse of World Trade Center Building 7" was released by NIST, it was criticized by the professional and scientific community.

    Some of that criticism has come from AE911Truth's nearly 2,200 architects and engineers who, along with many other prominent scientists, have called on NIST to explain how it reached its conclusions. The magnitude of the scientific community's repudiation of the NIST report has been such an embarrassment for a flagship national technology institution such as NIST that even professional societies have been unwilling to review the critiques.

    Furthermore, the two case study authors pointed out, NIST refused to release the computer input data used in its analysis, saying that if this information were to be released, it "might jeopardize public safety." In fact, Coste told the Blacksburg crowd, the opposite is the case. For, if NIST's analysis is technically accurate, architects and engineers must have access to this information in order to design tall buildings that will provide safety to the public. If inaccurate, then NIST or some other organization needs to empanel a new, open, transparent, peer-reviewed study that would include all available evidence.

    Through the use of Freedom of Information Act requests, critics of the NIST report have documented flaws in its analysis. Recently, NIST even acknowledged one of those flaws: WTC 7's flange stiffeners — critical structural elements whose absence is key to the official failure hypothesis — were omitted from its Finite Element Analysis. But NIST still has not explained its omission of three lateral support beams that were reinforcing the structure at the presumed point of collapse initiation. This recently obtained information further proves the implausibility of the core hypothesis of NCSTAR 1A.

    A comprehensive peer review process would have increased the probability that NIST's NCSTAR 1A would have embodied the ideals espoused by professional and engineering societies and expected by the public, asserts the Coste/Smith paper. Such a peer review process would have included hypotheses of explosive demolition which best fits the available evidence, instead of being rejected by NIST.

    AE presenter Coste wrapped up his talk by quoting from Dr. Knowles' "Lessons in the Rubble," in which the professor concluded: "Almost certainly tourists will file through a September 11 Museum before the full technical narrative of the collapse is written. That the federal government now bears this research and moral burden opens a new perspective on an America transformed by September 11."

    Knowles' conclusion, written in 2003, was uncannily prescient. Just a few days before the Virginia Tech conference, the National September 11th Memorial and Museum opened in New York City, a well-attended event that underscores the public's lack of awareness of the "full technical narrative of the collapse."

    Most members of the audience who heard the AE911Truth presentation in Blacksburg appeared uncomfortable with its implications. It remains to be seen whether, and how, they will be changed by the message.