(Author's revision, Oct. 11, 2009)
"The focus of the Investigation was on the sequence of events from the instant of aircraft impact to the initiation of collapse for each tower. For brevity in this report, this sequence is referred to as the 'probable collapse sequence,' although it includes little analysis of the structural behavior of the tower after the conditions for collapse initiation were reached and collapse became inevitable." (NIST, p xxxvii/39)
The preceding paragraph, from The Final Report on the Collapse of the World Trade Center Towers, may be a better synopsis of the entirety than any critic could compose. On the face of it, it's absurd, and in a practiced and casual manner it uses.a cognitive shock tactic wherein the logical absurdity is presented openly while simultaneously admitting that absurdity in superficially rational-sounding language. This is a ploy to preempt any close examination or protest of the absurdity. It is a hurried bum's rush past a vital topic.
The nonsense presented here is compact and multi-layered. It consists of the following elements:
a) an arbitrary decision to report on only part of the sequence of events
b) a naming and labeling of that act to characterize it as its own opposite
c) a conscious and blatant admission of the rhetorical, psychologically aggressive tactic that has just been used.
The first sentence is preparatory and an essential part of what is to follow. It acknowledges that the investigatory method to be used will result in deliberately ignoring a huge swath of the sequence of events. It makes the assumption that this method is proper by means of an even deeper and hidden assumption, namely that the events of the actual collapse can be properly separated from the events that lead up to them and that the resulting analysis will be as valid as if the total of all events had been examined. It is as if investigators of a murder ended their formal inquiries at the moment when the bullet was headed from gun to victim, with all subsequent events declared irrelevant.
We have here an attempt to make a highly artificial separation within an anomalous and dramatic series of events - things leading to collapses, then the collapses themselves. One caused the other, of course, and the way the collapses took place contain much vital evidence of what caused the collapses. This would seem trivial from a scientific standpoint and one watches in awe as NIST exhibits the temerity to essentially discard the actual collapses from analysis. The overall presupposition is that such a truncated analysis is as valid as one which did not arbitrarily draw a sharp line dividing those events that would be examined from those to be ignored. This is just bad science, bad logic, bad politics, and, to borrow from Sartre, bad faith.
By truncating their report with the bullet hanging in midair, the police investigators want the assumption to be made that the bullet was the primal and only cause of the victim's death. The NIST report accomplishes a similar thing. By ignoring the way the towers came down, they eliminate from consideration a host of possible causes other than plane impacts and fire. They accomplish this by simple omission of a huge portion of the available facts. In doing so, they destroy the context of the whole event. It's a bold stratagem and completely removes the report from the realm of the scientific and moves it into the political.
With this done the NIST investigators proceed to label their actions as their own opposite. They name the events leading to collapse as the 'probable collapse sequence'. It is done brazenly and with an inadequate explanation, much as if they had just stated that two equals three and then proceeded to more important matters.
To continue with the analogy of the murder investigation given before, it is as if the police investigators titled their report, which ended with the bullet hanging in midair, "What Happened After The Bullet Hit The Victim." The method has the advantage of being so simple as to nearly escape analysis and examination. One reads such things with the thought "Is it just me or did that sentence make no sense at all?" The critical parsing of language needed to show that it makes no sense is of necessity tiresome and tedious.
For a final assault on the reader's sense of congruity and logic the report writers simply acknowledge their own pathology by admitting that the content of the report has little to do with the informal title which they, themselves, have selected. They further state that it is not a random distortion but is in simple and direct opposition to the truth. The reason given? Brevity. Two equals three and we don't have the space or time to explain why this is so. The writers of this report continue the events of 911 with their assumption of the public's credulity. This report is an attack of another sort than 911 but it is an attack, all the same.
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
Herb Smith and I discussed many pertinent topics last night in a phone interview with our friend Vyz. This is a landmark webcast because it was Vyz's last program before his move to more a congenial neighborhood. Some of the language we used is not suitable for all ages--but it was a fun, relaxed conversation. And we thank Vyz for having us on for the last show recorded at his old digs.