|Taming the Beast: A Short History of the AE911Truth Debates|
|Sunday, 25 July 2010 18:11|
Soon after Richard Gage, AIA, became interested in the subject of the destruction of the three World Trade Center skyscrapers on 9/11, he began debating critics who felt qualified to challenge the explosive evidence. Gage twice debated Ron Craig (International Society of Explosives Engineers), as well as Mark Roberts (tour guide), Michael Shermer (founder of Skeptic Magazine), and Dave Thomas (mathematician and physicist).
The first debate, between Richard Gage, AIA, and Ron Craig, took place on November 12, 2007, on “The Richard Syrett Show,” in Toronto. Gage argued that explosives had been used to bring down the buildings and cited several points of explosive evidence such as the discovery of thermite in the debris, witness testimony citing explosions, beams hurled six hundred feet, and the free-fall of WTC Building 7. Gage also cited the lack of 110 floors of 4” thick concrete -- each an acre in size -- at the bottom of the Twin Towers and the huge amount of pulverized concrete powder that blanketed lower Manhattan.
Craig said there was no evidence of explosives and that the buildings fell due to natural causes. He said the planes’ impacts unleashed a huge amount of kinetic energy -- three times that necessary to powder some of the concrete into dust -- although he didn’t account for the massive quantity of it. He proposed that the molten metal was solder from wires and metals with lower melting temperatures than iron.
Gage and Craig discussed the possibility of explosives having been secretly installed in the buildings, Craig maintaining that it was unlikely anyone could have pulled that off. Gage pointed out that evidence must be faced squarely -- despite our doubts that it could be pulled off -- and that there was a large elevator modernization in the towers the nine months prior to 9/11 that would have given unlimited access to the elevator shafts to place charges on the core columns and beams in the buildings -- and that the security company in charge of the complex changed six weeks before the event.
The next debate took place on June 18, 2008, between Richard Gage, AIA, and Mark Roberts (a.k.a 'Gravy” on the James Randi Educational Forum) on the TV access show “Hardfire” with host John Clifton, past chair of the Libertarian Party of New York. Mark Roberts, a New York tour guide, said he has “no specific expertise” in 9-11 matters but became interested in 2006 when he heard some of the “conspiracy theories” and found them “suspect.”
Roberts could barely contain his hostility towards Gage, accusing him of lying several times and impugning his motives. The ill will Roberts brings to the discussion is evident in many of his online posts where he goes by the name of “Gravy.” One such post on a James Randi Educational Forum refers to “Gage and his gang of lazy, lying, despicable creeps,” which indicates that he doesn’t just disagree with his opposition; he despises them.
Towards the beginning of the debate Roberts said of Gage, “He's got a 542-slide presentation that he encourages everyone to see on his website.... I found 311 false statements, 114 misleading statements, and 137 logical fallacies.” He did not elaborate. Roberts took the approach that NIST fully explained everything; that anomalies, such as witnesses hearing explosions, simply didn't happen or the witnesses were mistaken. He also said the evidence of foreknowledge that Building 7 would collapse was simply a matter of experts thinking the building might fall because it had been damaged.
Gage focused on features of the collapse suggesting demolition, quoting David Chandler's determination that the building fell for 2.25 seconds at free-fall acceleration for 100 feet, straight down, into a neat pile. Gage also cited Danny Jowenko, a demolition expert, who said that the collapse was a controlled demolition carried out by professionals. He said they simply “blew away the columns.” Gage also said that the presence of molten iron at the site seen by witnesses and documented in photos and videos suggested the presence of incendiary materials because jet fuel and office fires cannot produce temperatures anywhere near the required 2,700 degrees F. Roberts said there was no molten iron.
Another debate took place on September 20, 2008 between Richard Gage, AIA, and Michael Shermer, founder of Skeptic Magazine on Angie Coiro’s radio show “Live from the Left Coast” on Green 960 AM.
Gage characterized Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth as advocates of forensic-based evidence who don’t say who pulled off 9/11. He began by saying the official conclusions don’t address the available evidence and called them “whitewashes.”
Shermer opened saying he thought the government’s official inquiries did a fairly good job and argued that Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda said they did it and intended to do it again. Gage, uncharacteristically took the bait this time and countered that the photograph did not look at all like bin Laden and that Bin Laden claimed that he was not responsible. (Bin Laden says "he wasn't behind attacks".)
Two major points of disagreement were the issues of free-fall and molten metal. Gage said that WTC 7 dropped at free-fall acceleration for two and a half seconds and that columns had to have been removed to accomplish it. Shermer said that the buildings fell at “slightly slower” than freefall. NIST had already acknowledged before this debate that they fell at free-fall.
Gage said that there is photographic and witness evidence that molten iron was found at Ground Zero and that the likely explanation is the presence of an incendiary like thermite. Indications of thermite, Gage said, included FEMA’s documentation in Appendix C of “intragranular melting, rapid oxidation, and sulfidation” on the structural steel members.
Shermer said there was no proof of melted metal and argued that there were no witnesses saying that.
Gage also used the occasion to address what Coiro referred to as possibly “poison pill” issues injected into the debate in order to discredit 9/11 researchers. Gage cited “mini-nukes,” “Directed Energy Weapons,” and "no planes at the trade center” theories as those which he considers invalid.
Coiro asked about the possibility of the planes having been remotely controlled. Gage said it was possible but beyond the scope of AE911Truth. He mentioned the named suspects who turned up alive after being accused of murder and suicide. On this point Shermer revealed a dismissive approach to what Gage was saying. Shermer said Americans easily confuse Middle Eastern names and that those people were all dead. “That claim has been looked into. None of those people have been interviewed,” Shermer said.
BBC, however, carried a story that said an accused hijacker, Waleed Al Shehri, was protesting the accusation in Morocco and has talked with journalists. (BBC story of hijacker who turned up alive.)
“They’re not alive; they’re dead,” Shermer said, “and that’s the end of that.”
Coiro also asked about the widely reported story that San Francisco mayor Willie Brown had said he’d been warned not to fly on 9/11. Shermer curtly replied, “So he says. Where’s the evidence for that?”
Gage said Shermer is not a true skeptic since he is unwilling to look at the evidence.
The second debate between Richard Gage and Ron Craig took place on Richard Syrett’s “The Conspiracy Show” on January 10, 2010. They again focused on whether or not explosives were used in bringing down the trade towers although this debate addressed Building 7 more fully.
Gage argued that the towers did not come down naturally but were helped by massive amounts of explosives of a type which resulted in molten metal and the huge pyroclastic-like cloud of dust that covered lower Manhattan.
Craig, conversely, said there was “no signature of explosions” and that no explosives were used -- that the molten metal never existed and that the planes hit with three times the kinetic energy necessary to turn “some” of the concrete into powder. Craig didn’t explain how much of the building was converted to dust. He said demolition would have blown out windows all over lower Manhattan. Gage noted that incendiaries, like thermite, do not have loud blast signatures, nevertheless witnesses did indeed hear explosions. Also -- it is common practice for demolition companies to demolition high-rises in urban settings without blowing out the windows in buildings across the street.
Where Gage saw “squibs” being expelled from explosions, Craig saw “puffs of air” from pressure created by the falling WTC Twin Tower building section. Craig said the explosions witnesses described prior to the planes hitting weren’t explosions at all but just loud sounds. At one point Gage told Craig that he is entitled to his opinions, but not to his own version of the facts.
At the beginning of the debate 81% of the audience believed the building fell due to demolition. At the end 85% believed that.
On October 24, 2009, an abbreviated debate took place between Gage and Dave Thomas, mathematician and physicist at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro, New Mexico. After Gage delivered his evidence, including information about free-fall acceleration, molten metal, iron spheres and evidence of nanothermite in the dust, Thomas began addressing “conspiracies” in general, which seemed to function as a rhetorical device to discredit Gage. Thomas belongs to a school of critics that lumps all 9/11 research into the same category as he puts it, “the Bible Code, the Roswell UFO incident, and other fringe beliefs.” Thomas, who refers to Gage as a “conspiracy theorist,” is another of those professed rational thinkers who apply multiple standards to suit their needs. The government’s claim that 19 Arabs conspired to attack New York and Washington and defeat the most technically advanced air defense in the world does not qualify as a conspiracy theory in Thomas’s world.
Thomas, like others who debate Gage, relies on the “Piledriver Theory” to explain how the smaller top section of the towers could destroy everything under them. The theory says that a structural failure due to fires caused the top section to drop one floor, which set off a chain reaction that completely demolished the buildings. The dynamic force simply overwhelms the building structure below. Gage notes that his theory ignores the structural resistance supplied by about 300 massive columns in the building.
Thomas is scheduled to debate Gage on the radio show Coast to Coast on Saturday night, August 21, from 10 pm to 2 am.